Flagler Beach pier closed; projects underway to repair it after Hurricane Ian destruction
FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. - On Flagler Beach, projects are underway to repair the historic pier and sand dunes after Hurricane Ian.
City leaders told FOX 35 News the sand dunes that protect homes and businesses are holding on by a thread.
"Frankly I was very emotional," William Whitson, City Manager of Flagler Beach said. "And there was a few tears shed when I saw the pier go south."
Roped off with caution tape, the Flagler Beach Pier is closed for good.
In 1927, the Flagler Beach wooden pier was built 800 feet long, but in 2016 Hurricane Matthew took out 400 feet and now Hurricane Ian has taken out an additional 150 feet. Engineers say it’s standing on its last leg.
There are plans, however, to rebuild. "A stronger pier – a concrete pier – a pier that will be able to withstand the forces of the Atlantic Ocean and mother nature," Whitson said.
Yet the same can’t necessarily be said for the sand dunes that serve as the first line of protection for the community.
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"It’s really very bad," said Faith Alkhatib, Flagler County engineer.
Along this six-mile stretch of beach, Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) crews are pouring sand on what is left of the dunes to help build them back. Some areas will also be reinforced with coquina rocks.
"I call it band-aid fix," Alkhatib said. "Which we did after Matthew. We spent at least 20 million dollars at that time. And all that sand and dunes washed out. It has been eroded. It’s gone."
Engineers said the dunes are hanging on by a thread and need a lot more support than this.
"If we get another strong storm, it’s not gonna be good," Whitson said.
After Matthew barreled through in 2016, parts of A1A were washed away with the sand dunes.
FDOT recommended building a $35 million concrete seawall, but the residents voted against it.
"Now because of Ian we’re very exposed and very vulnerable," Whitson said.
City and County leaders are working with FDOT, the Army Corps of Engineers and DEP, but said what they really need is more funding to grow the sand dunes by another 20 to 40 feet out toward the ocean where it used to be many years ago.