ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – As they mourned the loss of one of their colleagues Tuesday morning, St. Johns County commissioners got an update on storm damage the county sustained during Ian.
The storm left almost $40 million in damage to homes and businesses in the county. Now, commissioners are turning their attention to the damaged coastline where beach repairs are expected to cost tens of millions more.
The county says it was about a month away from completing beach protection projects along the coastline to add sand lost during Hurricanes Matthew and Irma when Ian hit. That means it now has to go back to the drawing board.
Officials estimate over half a million cubic yards of sand eroded along the St. Johns County coastline when Ian struck last month.
The county is now trying to figure out how to put sand back in some areas to protect homes along the coast and how much it will cost.
Dr. Joe Giammanco, St. Johns County Director of Emergency Management, on Tuesday gave an update on storm repair efforts to county commissioners.
He said the county will have to make immediate repairs to county infrastructure which will cost at least $3 million, but with help from the state and FEMA, it should only be on the hook for about $280,000.
That’s pennies compared to what is coming in the form of a massive emergency protective dune project meant to safeguard oceanfront homes from smaller storms and nor’easters.
“It is a very large number that we’re potentially looking at. And I’ll just preface that by saying if you look at the CAC project that we have right now, you’re about $33 million on 11 miles of coast, this is 25 miles of coast, barring 100% participation,” Giammanco said.
The county said it still trying to figure out the true scope of the project but it expects to get reimbursed by the federal government for those repairs, though it’s not a guarantee, Giammanco said.
This comes on top of other coastal issues.
There is coastal erosion near the St. Augustine Pier and in Vilano Beach and two studies now are trying to figure out what to do next in the Summer Haven area after two new breaches in the wake of Ian.
The county is expecting to know the true cost of all the coastline projects in the coming weeks and will look for the commissioners’ approval before moving forward.