Dunes in the unincorporated section of Volusia County are not the protection they were before Matthew.
Hurricane Matthew brushed by Ormond-by-the-Sea, washing out dunes, dune walk-overs and two partial sections of State Road A1A, which was nothing compared to just a few miles north in Flagler Beach.
Flagler County immediately rallied with calls and trips to Tallahassee as the local and state governments worked together to get funding. Flagler Beach made the news when the city lost two large sections of the coastal road. Gov. Rick Scott and local officials had the roadway reopened in record time. In Volusia County the lines are not as clearly drawn and there is question as to whether the county or the Florida Department of Transportation should be applying for grants for dune restoration.
Along the unincorporated Volusia County coastline there were two minor breaches of A1A, called “shark bites” because of the shape. These were repaired quickly, allowing traffic to flow without detours up the coastline.
According to Jessica Winterwerp, coastal county director for Volusia County, Volusia has one of the few natural beaches on the East Coast of Florida. It is not an engineered beach like Fort Lauderdale, where permits are in place for beach restoration and berms are in place in front of the dunes.
The county paid for a plane to fly the coastline and take readings before and after Hurricane Matthew. This data was provided to the Florida Department of Transportation at no charge. It is not clear how this data has been used.
Winterwerp said the county has cleaned the beach of debris and is working with homeowners associations that have contacted her office for guidance on dune walkover replacements and clean up. For example, the Wisteria HOA called about the removal of massive concrete rubble, and Winterwerp said a grant from the state should help remove that debris before turtle season begins on May 1.
When it comes to the reduced dune line that now separates the sea from the roadway, there is some question as to whose responsibility it is.
Winterwerp said the county cannot make a FEMA claim for the area north of Al Weeks North Shore Park because State Road A1A asset protection (the dunes) is under the Florida Department of Transportation. There are no structures on the dunes north of the park, within Volusia County, with the exception of dune walkovers and the World War II tower deck.
“It is owned and maintained by FDOT,” Winterwerp said.
Ron Meade, operations engineer for FDOT, said there are no beach replenishment or dune repairs planned, in part because it is not FDOT’s jurisdiction.
“The dunes are not ours to restore,” Meade said. “We don’t have the authority to work on the dunes.”
Meade said FDOT does maintain a “clear zone,” which he described as a place where cars could go in the event they had to dodge a dog or other obstruction on the edge of the road. He also said FDOT had added fill sand east of Wisteria Drive where it had washed out because cars were parking in the area.
The governor did propose a $111 million budget for dune restoration, but if the county applied for that, it could jeopardize the possibility of FEMA paying for it. And if the state paid for the restoration instead of FEMA, the county would have to pay 50% of the cost, rather than 12.5% through FEMA.
Winterwerp said the county is having an informational meeting that will encompass a variety of projects including water sewer updates, dunes and walkovers, and two new off-beach parking areas, among other topics of interest to the residents of Ormond-by-the-Sea and Ormond Beach, at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 25, at Riverside Methodist Church, 2253 John Anderson Drive.