FL - 300 dump trucks traverse Florida neighborhood each day to restore dunes decimated by Hurricane Ian
Its is a race against time for Barefoot Beach, Florida, as they rush to restore protective sand dunes that were destroyed by Hurricane Ian before the 2023 hurricane season begins.
BAREFOOT BEACH, Fla. – Beach defenses, millions of years in the making, took Hurricane Ian half a day to tear apart in Barefoot Beach, Florida. The dunes were decimated. Now, the small neighborhood and preserve is rebuilding their first line of defense, just weeks before the start of the next hurricane season.
For two weeks, neighbors have dealt with a sand-filled dump truck rumbling through the home-lined streets every 2 minutes. Monday to Saturday, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., 300 truckloads a day move over the brick-paved roads on the barrier island.
"All I can say is, thank goodness," said David Lieberman, president of the Barefoot Beach Property Owner’s Association.
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"We had to give the county easements along the beachfront because they're deploying sand and putting their trucks across beachfront property," he added. "So obviously, it was in everyone's interest to give these things, but it took a little while for me to convince people that it was a good thing."
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Collier County announced the emergency beach berm construction in December for the second-best beach in the U.S. as ranked by Dr. Beach in 2014. The $20 million project uses three companies to mine the sand from areas in South Florida. In all, 400,000 tons of sand. The project is aimed at refurbishing dunes along roughly 12 miles of beach, including Barefoot.
"Funds have been allocated from Tourist Development Tax funds; it is anticipated that FEMA and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection will provide reimbursement for the expenditure," county officials said in a news release.
Nervous Barefoot Beach residents were ready to take on the expensive project themselves before the announcement. Lieberman said that homeowners feared even more loss to their property without the barrier.
"We were originally thinking that we would assess the community and hopefully get reimbursed 50% (by the state) for the dune restoration," Lieberman said.
Lieberman and most of his neighbors lost the first floor of their homes to Category 4Hurricane Ian in September. Maximum sustained winds of 150 mph and a 15-foot storm surge pounded the small barrier island and wiped out the dunes that were about 7 feet above mean tide, he said.
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