Besides leaving streets and parks flooded, canopies and bleachers strewn on fences, the lasting impact from last week’s storm may be on Key Biscayne’s already sand-starved beaches.
“A lot of escarpments or dunes have been eroded away – a lot from like the Ocean Club to Grand Bay,” said Key Biscayne Chief Resilience Officer Roland Samimy.
The stakes are high when it comes to the 1.25 miles of beaches on Key Biscayne. Government Cut acts like a barrier, blocking the natural flow of new sand to the island, while storms come and whittle the beach away.
A 2021 project aimed to undo the damage of natural erosion — compounded by Hurricane Irma four years ago — by bringing in 31,000 cubic yards of sand, nearly one third of which was paid for by the Village. It followed renourishment projects of various amounts in 2017, 2012, 2008, 2007, 2002 and an U.S. Army Corps of Engineers effort in 1987.
The Village secured $450,000 for beach renourishment from the state last legislative session but after the wind and rain event of last week there may be a need for more money.
The storm packed nearly 60 mph gusts and up to seven inches of rain for Key Biscayne and while the weather system was considered extratropical – a winter storm – the radar images showed intense circulation over Miami-Dade County between Wednesday night and Thursday morning.
“We’re trying to figure that out now,” Samimy said. “We would like to try and add more sand to be able to restore some of the new erosion, but again it’s a matter of dollars and cents.”
The island dodged a bullet last month when high winds caused severe beach erosion in parts of Broward and Palm Beach County. This time it was pretty severe because erosion hit the dune line, Samimy said.
“The reefs are the first line of defense, then the beach and then the dunes are the next,” he said.
The bulk of the dunes stayed put, but what Samimy called the “toes” washed away.