Environmental Officials Plan to Ask the Legislature for Emergency Money to Replace Sand Washed Away by Hurricanes
State environmental officials plan to ask lawmakers for an emergency appropriation of $68-million to put back millions of tons of sand washed off the Florida's beaches during Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne, the Associated Press reported.
The storms eroded shorelines to the edges of roads and beachfront propertiesleaving structures perilously close to the waves in some cases.
The State Department of Environmental Protection's Bureau of Beaches and Coastal Systems Chief, Michael Barnett, told a state Senate panel that the agency is still assessing the damage.
"We can't afford to wait," Barnett said. According to him, restorationpumping sand from the ocean bottom farther off shore and depositing it on the coastline to extend beachesneeds to begin quickly before more storms further erode beaches and endanger property.
The department plans to ask lawmakers for the money when the Legislature returns to Tallahassee for an expected special session, possibly later this month. Barnett told the Senate Environmental Preservation Committee the bulk of the money, $53-million, would go to create dunes to stabilize hard-hit beaches in 13 counties, according to the Associated Press.
Some of the worst-hit areas included Cape San Blas in the Panhandle and the beaches near Pensacola, both hit hard by Hurricane Ivan, and beaches in southwest Florida that were hit by Charley.
Barnett also made the case for ongoing beach renourishmentshowing pictures of recently restored beaches that weathered the hurricanes better than they otherwise might have. According to him, studies have shown that every dollar spent on beach restoration brings more than $6 in tourist spending.