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About half of Indian Rocks Beach eroded after Elsa

Coastal engineers with Pinellas County determined about half of the beach at Indian Rocks was washed away by Hurricane Elsa.

INDIAN ROCKS BEACH, Fla. — Although most of Tampa Bay was not directly and immediately impacted by Hurricane Elsa, there are long-term effects.

Strong winds and storm surge were bound to cause beach erosion, which happens when the water washes away sand, rocks, or whatever soil is along the coastline.

In Florida, most erosion is caused by tropical storms and hurricanes.

During storms, sand is churned up by water and washed away. You'll find beach erosion all along the coast.

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Thursday, about 30 hours after Elsa roared through the area, coastal engineers with Pinellas County were out surveying and assessing the beach erosion from Hurricane Elsa.

They do this because depending on what they find, the beach could be eligible for a beach renourishment project paid for by the federal government.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers conduct renourishment projects all around the country. Pinellas County was eligible for these projects after Hurricanes Hermine and Irma.

Dr. John Bishop, the Coastal Management Coordinator with Pinellas County estimated they lost somewhere between a quarter to a half of the beach at Indian Rocks.

"It's less recreational space but it's also less protection for the upland buildings. These projects are designed to protect upland infrastructure. The roads, the parking lots, the buildings, all the structures we have," said Bishop.

Overall, Pinellas County lost between 25,000 and 100,000 cubic yards of sand during Hurricane Elsa. That's equal to several thousand dump trucks of sand.

Even without storms, Bishop estimates the beach loses about a coffee cup's worth of sad every hour.

"A category three could easily do significant damage. We could lose most of the beach, large portions of the dune," said Bishop.

The Sand Key area of Pinellas County which includes Clearwater Beach to North Redington Shores is due for a massive beach renourishment project in 2024, but the project is on hold until the county can get easements from roughly 200 property owners.

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