Photo of treasure Island taken during Tropical Storm Debby
Pinellas County, Florida- The report is in on the damage Tropical Storm Debby caused along Pinellas beaches, and the news is not good. County officials are now asking the US Army Corps of Engineers for $25 million to help rebuild our beaches.
A walk along Indian Shores Beach isn't the same as it was two months ago for visitors from Germany. "Completely different beach," says Reiner Shrawn.
He and his wife say they visit Indian Shores several times a year. Reiner says the sand the dunes are gone.
More than 34 feet of beach and dunes washed away on Indian Shores Beach during Tropical Storm Debby's three day stay along the Pinellas County coastline, and left nearby dunes and condos exposed to future storm damage.
"Tropical Storm Debby would be the storm that has caused the most damage along our beach and the dunes," says Dr. Pin Wang with USF's Department of Geology.
Before and after the storm, Wang measured the sand volume, the dune line and high tide line along three barrier islands: Long Key, Treasure Island and Sand Key.
He says the result is a dramatic shift in sand. "Because of the wind and waves coming from south to north, it tends to get more erosion than beaches to the northern end of the Barrier Island."
While Sand Key gained sand, Sunset Beach loses 21 feet of beach line nearly the entire public beach.
Pass-A-Grille's beach used to stretch out 25 feet; Tropical Storm Debby not only washed away that much sand but half of the dunes.
During high tide where the dunes once stood is where beachgoers lay their towels and beach chairs. This scene is repeated over and over again up the Pinellas coastline.
The study shows North Redington beach lost 33.8 feet, Madeira Beach and Redington Beach more than 18 feet, and Headland lost 28.2 feet of sand.
Much of the sand, says Wang, is out on a nearby sandbar that now serves as a protective barrier from future storms. "The waves that break over the bar kills the wave's energy when it arrives at shore line," explains Wang.
But Wang says the dry sand lost along with the dunes will take too long to naturally rebuild. Pinellas County officials are asking the federal government for $25 million to repair Pinellas beaches.
Andy Squires, Pinellas Count's Coastal Manager says, "Yeah, I mean, there's a huge benefit because it provides the protection you might need to prevent property damage in the event of a storm."
But are taxpayers willing to spend the money?
"I think it's worth the investment that brings the tourists its part of our economy," says Diane Henson from Polk County she is visiting Sand Key.
Joe Larkin from Pinellas County is spending the day on Pass-A-Grille. He says, "Aside from losing some of the beach, it doesn't really bother me as a person who lives here, so I'd say no for spending that."
Sand Key has a beach nourishing project going on now. County officials say if they can extend that project, it would save taxpayers a couple of million dollars in relocating equipment.
County officials hope to hear back from the federal government this week.