With Florida DEP's approval, Hammock Dunes will be prepared for 2017 hurricane season.
When Hurricane Matthew blew out of town, the 2.3 mile stretch of dunes on the Hammock Dunes Beach was left destroyed.
The storm that crept along the coast Oct. 7, 2016 left just enough of the dunes to protect the homes in the gated community from the Atlantic Ocean.
While the community lost about 15 feet of dune depth, the only structure damage was to the 53 walkovers that were broken off and swept away by the cresting waves. George DeGovanni, president of the Hammock Dunes Homeowners Association, said there were four minor breaches that cut through the dunes.
“We do not want them going across the dunes to get to the beach. This is your $2 million investment.” GEORGE DE GOVANNI, president Hammock Dunes Homeowners Association
Not ones to tempt fate, DeGovanni and community managers Jeff Annon and Travis Houck have decided to do their best to have the first phase of the dune restoration project completed by May 1, so that residents and their property are ready for the upcoming hurricane season, which officially begins on June 1.
May 1 is the beginning of turtle nesting season, and shouldn’t be a concern since the restoration work is ahead of schedule.
But if the Florida Department of Environmental Protection gives the community an extension to restore walkovers and replant the dunes past the May 1 turtle nesting season deadline, the HOA plans to have the area’s licensed turtle patrol handle any possible nest relocations.
DeGovanni said he doesn’t want to have to relocate any nests, but wants to be able to move them out of harm’s way.
“The county is trying to get money to restore the rest of the county dunes and beach,” DeGovanni said. “We don’t know when that is going to happen, and we can’t risk our community going past turtle season and into the next hurricane season.”
Residents have been supportive of the decision to incur a $2 million loan from Intracoastal Bank and have their dues increase to protect their assets. The community has applied for FEMA reimbursement. If the reimbursement is awarded, the money would be used to pay up to 75% of the loan.
Repairing dunes is serious business in Florida and has to be performed under the auspices of the Florida Department of Environmental Management.
Flagler County has granted access to the HOA and closed Varn Park to allow the transportation of more than 200 trucks carrying 18 cubic yards of sand per truck, each day.
The beach is fenced off and closed between Varn Park and Jungle Hut Road while the construction is underway. DeGovanni said that hasn’t stopped some beachgoers from going around the fences and walking among the large trucks.
Halifax Paving has a contract with a sand quarry off Colbert Lane to meet DEP requirements for sand compatible with the existing sand on the beach, and the company has also provided a prototype of equipment that can be used on the beach without getting stuck.
DeGovanni said that while the sand is being unloaded down the beach, a bulldozer is “sculpting” the restored dunes to at least 18 feet high and 5 feet deep.
Residents are asked to stay off the closed area of the beach and dunes. Those who don’t will be charged with trespassing, and the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office will be called.
“We do not want them going across the dunes to get to the beach. This is your $2 million investment,” DeGovanni said.