Monday, May 29, 2006

engraved invitation to destruction



Another sure sign that summer has come is the flurry of hurricane preparedness admonitions. Every publication runs at least one, right along with all the alarming predictions of what a nasty, active storm season is about to descend upon us while city officials urge us to prepare ourselves. Well, here I am, preparing.

All year long I have been pushing and pushing for the town to build dunes, and the BOA and all the candidates before the last election made a great show of professing their support for such an endeavor... and yet.

Here are two views of what I have to look at every time I walk my dog to the beach at the end of my street - beach access #16.

Clearly, the dunes are trying to build themselves, but the city keeps knocking them down to preserve access for beach maintenance vehicles. In doing so, they have created a canal that will usher even the lowest of storm surges onto Gulf Blvd. where the dune on the west side of the street will redirect the flowing water to the two streets on either side of it - Saturn and Venus - and more than likely right up to the door of my ground-floor condo.

This is not just my problem. The town is endangering the property of everyone who lives on those two streets and I am surprised - after witnessing how the town handled the storm surges from Rita last year - that more people are not up in arms about this. (Just to refresh your memory, city workers pushed up a loose sand berm at access #16 at least three different times during this surge, which had the unintended consequence of dispersing huge amounts of sand onto Gulf Blvd. and fouling up the sewer system in the process -- but did not seem to slow the surge down any; surf trash was deposited halfway up my street.)

I understand that the vehicle access at #16 is slated to be moved to #17 at some point in the indeterminate future, and that a dune overpass large enough to accommodate the vehicles will be built there. I know this is going to be expensive but I also know that the BOA allocated funds just for these types of projects. I want to know the time schedule on this, and I want to know if public works has devised a better plan for protecting #16 from any kind of storm surge in the meantime.

Did we learn nothing from Rita??!!

10 Comments:

Blogger Sam said...

A giant funnel is what it is ... with no sea wall or dune protection. Doing something, like a drive-over sea wall or a dune bridge costs big bucks, though, and lack of money and resources seems so be an issue.

Dredging is another issue. Emergency dredging was done by the Corps and there was no "window" for depositing the sand on the beach, to use for dunes and renourishment. Plus, most beachside dredge projects are scheduled for November-February to miss the high season.

Mayor Pinkerton is something of an expert on this subject and maybe we can talk with him sometime - he is (or was) on some GLO and legislative committees.

As for hurricane season, it starts in three days. I thing we sorta dawdled around a little too late on this issue to do any good this year. But hey, some of the dune stuff we did down by Bahia Mar and Iverness still looks great!

11:11 AM  
Blogger Brian Mikiten said...

I'm just back after several recent trips to New Orleans and our dunes are just mini versions of levys. This isn't too tough to justify. Why is it taking so long? Isn't this just a bit of work with hay bales and backhoes?

Brian

9:30 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

Good to hear from ya, Brian. At the risk of yet again sounding like a blowhard (poor me!), it takes a lot of cubic yards of sand to make the proposed "continuous dune." Think like a big scoop on a backhoe front-end bucket is maybe a cubic yard.

OK, if we have an 80 foot gap we want to close to the existing dunes, and make it 9 feet high and 20 feet wide, that's like 500 scoops or about 35 dump truck loads. Hey, that's a heck of a lot of scoops! Do we rob the beach or what?

I haven't surveyed the gaps in the dune system but my reconning is maybe way over 50 major ones here. Right, we're talking "scoop city" here, maybe 30,000 to 100,000 cubic yards, depending on how the engineers design it (always a wild card, since sand is blown on the beach and THEN scooped).

I wish I had answers besides sheer quesses ... but those little Christmass trees and hay bales and wind fences only are good for about an uneven 2-3 feet of elevation. The seaweed thrown on them is worth maybe another few feet in sporadic spots.

I don't think that the people in the know here know what they're up against. Just considering the amount of cubic yards, it would be a major reconstruction of the beach.

10:56 PM  
Anonymous Gulfless said...

Wouldn’t the daily purging of sargassum go a long way towards building a dune system?

9:08 AM  
Blogger Lucinda said...

This complaint is not even really about the town's lack of action on building dunes. I am concerned that they are actively discouraging/destroying a dune that _wants to form -- a dune that could protect me and a bunch of my neighbors from a storm surge.

5:00 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

Oh. Hey Sandy maybe we could suggest some redneck engineering, then. Perhaps Raul Morales (Public Works) would listen to the idea of a raised hump 4 feet high and ten feet wide, with a gate so the drunks didn't keep trying to drive on the beach?

One concept would be old telephone poles buried in the ground across the access there. You'd need a bunch of them close together or some boards nailed in between them. That's called a "key," no matter if you use concrete or whatever.

Then you'd need a ramp for the emergency vehicles. I'm no engineer but certainly one could design one from sand and some old Navy landing mats or something. I suppose one could spend $80,000 on a super-duper model with concrete ramps but I've seen the town crews work with the backhoes - they're pretty darned good, actually.

Anyway, you want the same protection as the seawalls, which are remarkably consistent in their height (about 5 foot above sea level). That would definitely help absorb wave energy and keep Saturn Street from flooding as bad. /Sam

6:26 PM  
Blogger Brian Mikiten said...

What is the elevation in question? Sam's calcs could be way off (in either direction) depending on the wave source, location, etc. Has anyone spoken with the city? I can't imagine they are just ignoring this.

Brian

4:08 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

Right, modelers are plus or minus 30%. A concerned citizen has alerted Town staff to this site. Who knows?

8:27 PM  
Anonymous adelaide marie said...

hey sandy....i remember rita
lori darlin even took some aftermath pics for me. if they need some serious reminding let me know and i'll send them a link....

4:16 PM  
Anonymous Char in Colorado said...

Its not just the access 16. That great photo that Lucinda posted showing what kind of destruction could (did) happen was north, almost to the end of Gulf Blvd.
I am grateful for all of you that are there year-round taking such active roles. I'll be down when I retire.

7:07 PM  

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