Delaware's shoreline expert tours beach damage

    This afternoon the person who oversees the strength of Delaware’s 25 miles of shoreline will take a ride on a state police helicopter to see the big picture of Ida’s damage to first state beach towns.

    This afternoon the person who oversees the strength of Delaware’s 25 miles of beach shoreline will take a ride on a state police helicopter to see the big picture of Ida’s damage to First State beach towns.

    It’s easier to get that assessment by air since many vehicle crossings at most of the dunes are now 10-12 foot cliff-drops to the beach.

    Tony Pratt, DNREC’s shoreline and waterway administrator, says Bethany and South Bethany were hardest hit when it comes to dune and beach erosion.

    “The damages are related to dune loss and beach loss. We didn’t lose any boardwalks. We didn’t lose any structures, in fact I haven’t heard of any substantial structure damage at all,” Pratt said.

    “I think that’s a tribute to the dune protection that was in place . We’ve made a choice in Delaware to let sand be sacrificed rather than roads, and sewer lines and infrastructure which has been the case too many times in the past.”

    Pratt says the cost of beach replenishment in Delaware varies year to year, but the state’s portion of a cost-share agreement with the Army Corp of Engineers runs between $1 and $2 million dollars annually.

    The most recently replenished beaches last year were Dewey and the north end of Bethany Beach. Some work at Bowers Beach wrapped up just last week.

    He says it’s money well spent when you consider the overall impact a good beach has on the economies of local beach towns and Delaware as a whole.

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    Pratt says his office is awaiting a comprehensive report on Delaware’s bay beaches, and what the state may have to spend to maintain them over the next ten years.

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