County assesses beach storm damage

beach storm damage
A turtle nest is inundated by storm water in Anna Maria. - Katie Field | Submitted

The beaches of Anna Maria Island are in good shape, despite the recent pounding from Subtropical Storm Alberto and last year’s Hurricane Irma. That’s the opinion of Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources Director Charlie Hunsicker, whose department keeps track of the beaches.

“We checked the areas where we thought we might have problems and we found the beach profile held up,” he said. “That’s partially the result of periodic renourishment of the hot spots.”

Hunsicker said erosion was bad along Coquina Beach, where there are old erosion piers that are now buried. He said they might try a mitigation project there.

“It might be changing the profile of the seabed to slow down wave action,” he said. “We need to abate the storm surge to prevent intrusion into populated areas.”

Farther north along Cortez Beach, the three new, adjustable groins called the Twin Piers Project did their job to slow erosion, Hunsicker said. There was also a buildup of sand along the Island’s north shore.

In general, Hunsicker said the damage from Subtropical Storm Alberto was typical, with bad erosion along some areas. But he added that wave action after the storm will help build the sand back up through accretion. The sand that gets washed away by storms usually sits on the seabed just offshore and then gets washed back up onto the beach.

As for any unscheduled renourishment, Hunsicker said the county will monitor what the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers say at the end of the storm season concerning the overall impact on the beaches.