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Palm Coast Friday, Jan. 27, 2017 1 year ago

Gov. Rick Scott announces 15.8 million in appropriations to rebuild beach dunes, including Flagler's

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The money would help the county repair breached dunes before a new hurricane season begins June 1.
by: Jonathan Simmons News Editor

Standing on the beach behind mounds of white sand recently added to plug a breached dune at Washington Oaks Gardens State Park, Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Jan. 28 announced a $15.8 million allocation to rebuild dunes in Flagler County and other counties battered by Hurricane Matthew.

"It's to make sure that we keep these beaches up," he said. "It's going to be for adding beach, adding sand. It's also going to be doing reconstruction, and building and reconstructing sand dunes. It's to protect our buildings, protect our roads. And, of course, we want our tourists to get back here, enjoy our our beaches and our beautiful weather."

Flagler will get about $5.38 million of that money, and will have to match it with up to $4.6 in county money. The county is still negotiating with the state over how the county's portion of the match will be determined.

The rest of the $15.8 will be divided between Volusia, Saint Johns and Brevard Counties. 

The money will be funelled through the state's Department of Emergency Management, Scott said. He appropriated it using an emergency executive order.

Restoring Flagler County's entire 18-mile coastline is expected to ultimately cost about $38 million, with about $15 million of that being spent within the city limits of Flagler Beach. 

The influx of state money from the emergency order is intended to help Flagler County plug areas of dune that washed away during the storm — leaving the businesses and homes behind them unprotected from future flooding — before hurricane season begins again on June 1.

If that doesn't happen, two dozen homes in Painters Hill would be vulnerable to structural damage and flooding and about 600 near the middle of the county's coast could flood in a future storm.

County Commissioner Nate McLaughlin said the county hopes the dune work will leave local dunes stronger than they were before Hurricane Matthew. 

"Our hope is to be able to beef up, not just replace, and create a stronger dune environment here," he said. 

Many of the homes along the coast are on septic systems, and flooding from a breached dune could overwhelm the wastewater system and push effluent into the streets, creating a "major public health problem," McLaughlin said. 

The county government hopes to do as much dune work as possible before sea turtle nesting season begins May 1, because once nesting season begins, work on the dunes would require additional permits, and nests would have to be relocated to protect eggs and hatchlings from the reconstruction work. 

County officials said at a Jan. 23 County Commission workshop that they hope to be able to have a contract in place to replenish the dunes by March 1.

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