Delaware beaches have damage; overall beaches and boardwalk survive unscathed

Compared to neighboring New Jersey, Delaware’s beach communities and boardwalk businesses were barely scratched by Hurricane Sandy.

Hundreds of people were out on the Rehoboth boardwalk and walking the beach just to get a look at any damage, but there wasn’t much to see. The only evidence of the high water from Sandy was some sand and rocks dumped on the boardwalk. The dunes in Rehoboth were about the same height as they were before the storm, although there were some signs of washout on the west side of the dunes next to the boardwalk.

Tony Pratt, Delaware’s Shoreline and Waterway Management Section Manager, says the state’s beaches really dodged a bullet. He says a number of the state’s beaches had just been replenished over the past year to prepare for a storm just like Sandy. “We really were in good shape coming into this storm,” Pratt says. “It’s could be a testament to the fact that we’re sitting out on a boardwalk that’s intact today. People are able to come down here and see the ocean. The dune is still intact.”

The beach itself lost a lot of sand in Rehoboth, but Pratt says the natural action of the waves is starting to return some of that sand.  “The beach is going through the natural repair process.” Pratt says losing sand is much better that losing infrastructure. “If the sacrifice is sand loss and fence loss versus the boardwalk and Dolle’s and other businesses along here, we’ll take that any day.”

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Over the next week, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control will conduct a survey along all Delaware beaches to determine exactly how much sand was lost and to decide what the appropriate response is. The Presidential declaration of Delaware as a disaster area helps move that process along, but Pratt says there is some urgency to get the beaches repaired because nor’easter season is right around the corner.

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