Summer Haven residents meet with county leaders as erosion continues to threaten homes

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – Summer Haven residents met Tuesday evening with county leaders and coastal engineers to talk about the future of the area.

The meeting comes as beach erosion continues to threaten homes in the area.

We flew the Sky 4 Drone over the neighborhood following Hurricane Nicole, the late-season Category 1 storm that hit Florida in November.

The sight is a common one for the stretch of beach after dealing with storm after storm.

Skye Taylor has lived along Old A1A for 14 years.

“I have replaced my doors and windows so they’re hurricane standard, with the latest hurricane standard and I sandbag,” Taylor said.

In the past, the county has spent money to restore dunes along the coast — just for them to be washed away during the next storm.

Melanie Barna says they’ve helped spare her home, which is right on the beach.

“Storm surges concern me,” Barna said. “I anticipate water getting in the bottom half of the house, but thank God, the last two (hurricanes) nothing happened.”

Now the county is trying to find a long-term solution. A town hall was held Tuesday night where residents had the chance to talk to coastal engineers, working to come up with possible solutions.

“The goal of this study is to get away from this piecemeal approach and identify a long-term approach that is going to stabilize the beach and keep the river flowing,” explained engineer Michael Trudnak.

Possible solutions include putting up sea walls, dune restoration and buying out properties in problem spots.

There is no quick fix because a lot of factors could come into play including the overall cost and the extent of property protection.

The county says they will be holding another town hall like Tuesday night’s where residents will get the chance to give feedback to engineers. They say they will come up with solutions to eventually present before the county commission.

In related news, the director of St. Johns County Emergency Management gave county commissioners an update Tuesday on the various beach renourishment and restoration projects that are in the works.

RELATED: St. Johns County beach renourishment projects: Where they stand, what’s in the works

The county’s 42 miles of beach lost 1.9 million cubic yards of sand from Hurricane Ian. Officials haven’t yet calculated the sand lost from Hurricane Nicole.

By comparison, Hurricane Matthew in 2016 washed out 1.3 million cubic yards of sand.

About the Author:

Renee Beninate is a Florida native and award-winning reporter who joined the News4Jax team in June 2021.