Six months and one day after Superstorm Sandy devastated parts of the East Coast, Delaware leaders unveiled a multi-million dollar beach restoration project, funded entirely by the federal government.
Gov. Jack Markell, Delaware’s Congressional Delegation and Dept. of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Collin O’Mara announced as much as $30 million in federal dollars has been secured to rebuild Delaware’s beaches to pre-Sandy conditions.
“Because we are a low-lying state, extreme storms pose a real threat to us,” said Gov. Markell, D-Del. “My thanks goes to our Congressional Delegation for securing the funding that’s allowing us to restore damaged beaches and dunes and shore up our vulnerable areas so we can mitigate the potential impact of future storms.”
“While Delaware did not have the severe damage that our neighbors to the north experienced, Delaware did see widespread flooding that caused damage to many of our homes and businesses,” Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del, said.
A significant impact considering Delaware’s coastal economy generates about $7 billion a year and supports 59-thousand jobs, according to a University of Delaware study released last year.
“It is important to keep investments in place that will protect our homes, businesses, and infrastructure from serious damage in the future,” said Congressman John Carney, D-Del. “With Memorial Day fast approaching, I’m looking forward to another successful year at Delaware’s beaches.”
Under the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013, almost two million cubic yards of sand will be pumped onto Delaware beaches, including a stretch of beach just north of the Indian River Inlet. Heavily damaged by Sandy, the beach and dune will be fully restored and maintained with a sand bypass system pumping sand from the south side of the inlet to the north side. The restoration is not only expected to protect the bridge, but also Route 1 from flooding and storm damage.
“The beach that will result from the nourishment job that we’re announcing today will be much wider than it was pre-Sandy… It’ll be a much more substantial dune so, not to say there’s not a storm out in the future that could still breach those dunes, but it’ll be much more resistant to storms,” said Tony Pratt, DNREC’s Administrator of Shoreline and Waterway Management.
The state had just completed beach nourishment projects last summer when Sandy hit a few months later. Many credit the project for preventing hundreds of millions of dollars of potential damage to Delware’s coast.
“Storms and rising sea levels can cause severe erosion, and we have to remain vigilant in order to ensure we have the best possible protections in place,” Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del, said. “As we saw when Superstorm Sandy hit in October, sound management and flood protection measures on our beaches prevented devastating damage, and now we have to be ready before the next storm hits.”
State leaders say beach construction is expected to begin this summer.