WASHINGTON – Maryland and Delaware beaches survived Hurricane Floyd with little damage and no increase in erosion, local officials and residents said Tuesday.
“Our beach is fine,” said Charlene Carr, manager of the Purple Moose bar, just north of Division Street on the boardwalk in Ocean City. “We have had northeasters which have done much more damage.”
Maryland officials attributed the resilience of the state’s beaches to a 10-year, $70 million beach replenishment program that worked as a barrier against the storm.
In Delaware, where officials hope to secure funding next year to begin a beach replenishment program like Maryland’s, the beaches also escaped Floyd with little erosion.
“It created less of a problem than [hurricane] Dennis did,” Tony Pratt, shoreline manager with Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment Control.
At the height of last week’s storm, Ocean City had 15-foot waves and winds of up to 30 mph, said Ocean City Manager Dennis Dare. The beach, normally 200 feet wide from the boardwalk to the sea line, was reduced to only 50 by the storm.
But Dare said Tuesday that the beach was back to normal.
Dare estimated that, since 1989, 10 million cubic yards of sand — enough to fill 600,000 dump trucks – have been dumped on the beach under the replenishment program. The sand is dredged two miles offshore from Ocean City.
“[Beach replenishment] gives Mother Nature a buffer zone,” said Nancy Howard, in charge of the beach program for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. “It’s probably the most successful [program] in the East Coast, because it does exactly what is supposed to do.”
Erosion is defined as a net loss of sand to the sea and the subsequent retreat of the sea line, said Jane Pope, chief of the Army Corps of Engineers Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratories. It’s a natural process, she said, but human activities can accelerate erosion.
Ocean City faced severe beach erosion in the 1970s and `80s, before the replenishment program began, with virtually no beach left in some areas, such as 70th Street, Howard said.
Local, state and federal officials annually evaluate beach conditions to determine if beach replenishing will be necessary. This year’s survey is scheduled next month, when surveyors will look at beach width, dunes width and height, and beach elevation, among other factors.
Beach rebuilding programs planned for Delaware’s Rehoboth and Dewey beaches will resemble Ocean City’s program, said Richard Chlan, spokesman for the corps’ Philadelphia District, which includes Delaware. If funded, that program would begin in the fall of 2000, said Pratt.
An ongoing study of the Delaware beach project recommended 1.4 million cubic yards of sand be dredged and dumped on the beaches in the first phase, with another 360,000 cubic yards every three years.