Flagler's beaches partially reopen, A1A rebuilding to begin

A1A detour remains after Hurricane Matthew swept away chunks of road

FLAGLER BEACH, Fla. – The beaches of Flagler Beach and Flagler County partially reopened Wednesday for the first time since Hurricane Matthew hit. 

Flagler Beach opened the boardwalk beach area between 4th Street North and 9th Street South. The beach will remain closed south of 9th Street South, as additional safety issues still exist. Beachgoers using open stretches of the oceanfront should use caution as debris, boards and other hazards may still be embedded in the sand or floating in the ocean.

The 1.4 mile stretch of A1A that was destroyed by of Hurricane Matthew will be replaced, forcing the Department of Transportation to close part of the scenic highway.

During a Wednesday morning visit to Flagler Beach, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, said that since A1A is a federal highway, it will be fixed with federal funds, and an emergency contract for repairs could be signed within the next few days. Rebuilding could take three or four months.

"If you are going to fix the road, then you need to protect the road by restoring the beach," Nelson said. "The best protection is what mother nature designs. That is a beach."

During his visit, Nelson walked about 30 yards out on the Flagler Beach Pier to inspect damage to the structure. That was as far as it was safe to proceed.

“The pier will still be closed, but the Pier Shop and restrooms will be open,” Flagler Beach City Manager Larry Newsom said. “Lifeguards will be on duty.”

Swimming and surfing is permitted on Flagler Beach, but surfers are not allowed within 150 feet of either side of the pier by city ordinance.

Parks and beaches in the unincorporated areas of Flagler County -- Jungle Hut, Old Salt Park on 16th Street (near the Hammock Beach Resort), and River-to-Sea also opened Wednesday to residents and visitors. There is still no beach access for MalaCompra.

“Varn Park’s dune walkovers are closed with extensive damage,” Flagler County Administrator Craig Coffey said. “The walkover is gone at MalaCompra, and there is damage at the end of the road that needs to be addressed before we can open it up to the public. Please do not walk over any dunes.”

Beach access will be permitted at the following locations within Flagler Beach: North 4th Street; North 3rd Street; North 2nd Street (but no ADA-accessible ramp); South 2nd Street (with outdoor shower); South 3rd Street (with outdoor shower; South 5th Street; and, South 8th Street.

While the 10 blocks of A1A is closed, traffic is being detoured one block west -- to South Central Avenue -- between South 9th Street and South 22nd Street.

“South Central Avenue is a residential street where children, dog-walkers, pets and bicyclists are used to light traffic and slower speeds,” Flagler Beach Police Chief Matt Doughney said. “The speed limit on South Central Avenue is 25 mph. The detour was created out of necessity, and we are asking visitors and residents alike to exercise patience and courtesy while the detour is in place.”

Questions about the South Central Avenue detour should be directed to Doughney at 386-517-2024.

Debris removal ongoing in Flagler County

Debris removal is ongoing in Flagler County and likely will be for several weeks.

“This is a long process,” Flagler County Engineer Faith Alkhatib said. “Our contractors have doubled the number of trucks to our area. They are arranging to bring in even more trucks by the end of the week so we can get this work done as quickly as possible.”

The goal for Flagler County is to have all of the debris collected in the unincorporated areas within 30 days. The time frame to complete this first sweep of the county could be either longer or shorter depending on the actual volume of debris collected.

Debris removal scheduled for Tuesday includes the following unincorporated areas of Flagler County: in the Hammock area of Hernandez, Sanchez, Shady Lane, Pamela Parkway and Magnolia Manor; Marineland Acres beginning with Ocean Street and continuing south; Espanola; and, John Anderson Highway. Pick-up at Sugarmill Plantation is anticipated to continue until this weekend.

Residents of unincorporated Flagler County have been asked to get storm-generated debris to the roadway as quickly as possible to avoid being missed.

“We know it’s frustrating when everything has been moved, and then it is not immediately picked up,” Flagler County Commission Chair Barbara Revels said. “Please patient, though, and don’t be alarmed if some things are removed and not others. Different trucks pick up different types of debris.”

Several gated communities with private roadways have given Flagler County authorization to pick up debris for their residents. As of Tuesday, those homeowners associations include the following: Beach Haven Homeowners Association; Bulow Plantation Homeowners Association; Dixie Commons Property Owners; Dunes CDD; Eagle Rock Ranch Owners Association; Flagler Beach Polo Club; Flagler Beach Polo Club West; Island Estates Neighborhood Association; Lakeside by the Sea Homeowners Association; Maritime Estates Owners Association; Palm Coast Plantation HOA; Plantation Bay Community Association; Sea Colony HOA; Shelter Cove Homeowners Association; Sunset Inlet Owners Association; Surfside Estates Owners Association; and, West Lake at Plantation Bay Property Owners Association.

Representatives from other private communities are encouraged to call the Flagler County Administrative Offices at 386-313-4093 for an authorization agreement.

Remember to keep vegetative debris (woody burnable debris such as limbs and shrubbery) separated from construction and demolition debris, as they will be collected separately. Bagged debris should not be placed in the right-of-way; only loose debris will be collected.

Hazardous waste should be brought to Flagler County’s household hazardous waste collection center and recycle drop-off center is operated at the closed C & D Facility, located at 1700 South Old Kings Road. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. This service is provided free of charge to Flagler County residents.

Hazardous waste accepted at the landfill includes used motor oil, antifreeze, lead-acid and rechargeable batteries, paints, thinners and solvents, pool chemicals, fluorescent light bulbs and gasoline.

Do not place debris near water meter vaults, fire hydrants or any other above ground utility.

Residents from the city of Palm Coast should call the customer service line at 386-986-2360 for information about debris removal within the city limits.