Hurricane Dorian stayed 60 to 80 miles off Brevard County's shoreline. But its waves and wind still did extensive damage on Sept. 3 and 4 to Brevard's beaches and dune areas.
As a result, county commissioners on Tuesday unanimously approved $4.46 million for emergency maintenance of the engineered dunes along the county's South Beaches area, where Dorian caused significant erosion.
The South Beaches is a 14.5-mile length of shoreline extending south from Spessard Holland Park to Sebastian Inlet State Park at the southern end of Brevard. A county report says that, because of Dorian, that stretch of coastline now is "eroded and vulnerable."
The project cost including sand placement, installation of sea oats to stabilize the dune, permitting, construction oversight and three years of mandated environmental monitoring.
Money to initiate the South Beaches work will come from the Office of Tourism's beach improvement budget, which is funded by a portion of Brevard County's 5% Tourist Development Tax on hotel rooms and other short-term rentals.
The county will seek reimbursement of up to 87.5% of the cost from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
Separately, other Brevard County shorelines that are managed in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers — including sections known as the North Reach, the Mid Reach and the South Reach — also suffered erosion during Dorian.
County and Corps of Engineers staff completed an initial inspection of these shorelines on Sept. 5. The Corps is preparing reports to detail the damage.
Brevard County Natural Resources Management Department officials are waiting for the Corps of Engineers reports before detailing the total damage cause by Dorian in those other beach areas.
Any eligible repairs in those areas will be completed by the Corps, as authorized in the project partnership agreements.
Beach renourishment in the Mid Reach and the South Reach is expected between December 2019 and April 2020, as part of work planned prior to Hurricane Dorian.
Under the plan approved by commissioners on Tuesday, the county will use an existing contract with Southern Disaster Recovery to repair the South Beaches engineered dune project, as a way to save time in getting the project started and likely saving money, too.
In 2004-05, in response to Hurricane Jeanne, Brevard County constructed an engineered dune project along about 12 miles of developed shoreline in the South Beaches. This project has been maintained, as required by FEMA, most recently in 2017-18, after Hurricane Irma.
"To date, the South Beaches project has succeeded in maintaining public beach and coastal dune habitat seaward of major upland structures," the Natural Resources Management Department said in a report to county commissioner. "While the South Beaches project successfully protected upland structures and infrastructure during Dorian, the coastline is now eroded and vulnerable. Full maintenance of the engineered dune is needed swiftly."
The Natural Resources Management Department said in its report that "timely pursuit" of approving the South Beaches work was needed for several reasons:
• Winter storms will increase vulnerability along the eroded shoreline.
• The work is estimated to take four to five months.
• The work cannot be conducted during the main marine turtle nesting season that begins May 1.
• Shoreline that is not restored before May 1 "will remain highly vulnerable through the next hurricane season."
Maintenance of the South Beaches project is necessary to remain eligible for any future FEMA assistance, according to the Natural Resources Management Department.