Areas of Bay County had already suffered due to Hurricane Michael.
A forgotten weapon from a long ago war revealed itself on a Bay County beach last year when Hurricane Michael stole enough sand from St. Andrews State Park to expose parts of a gun turret assembled to protect cargo ships from Nazi U-boats during World War II.
Erosion caused last week by Tropical Storm Nestor was “thankfully minor” at Panama City Beach, according to Lisa Armbruster, Bay County’s coastal engineer consultant. It did, however, completely expose the remains of the gun turret.
Further evidence of the destructive erosion at the state park are a damaged wooden observation point and two damaged wooden dune walkovers. One of the walkovers and the observation point have been closed for two years without repairs and Hurricane Michael left them splintered and dangerous to be around.
Nestor arrived in Northwest Florida just a week before the United States Army Corps of Engineers was to embark upon a full survey of the beaches of Bay County ’in preparation for finalizing a Hurricane Michael repair renourishment project, Armbruster said.
“We should know more in a couple of months about erosion volumes experienced since our last survey post-Michael,” she said.
Weather experts warned officials in Bay, Walton and Okaloosa counties about possible erosion to area beaches as Tropical Storm Nestor skirted the coast Friday with winds of up to 60 miles per hour.
Reports of actual sand being swept away, however, were relatively few. That was at least to some degree due to the storm’s late southward wobble.
“Storm surge was insignificant and did not cause any issues along Walton County beaches,” said Brian Kellenberger, Walton County’s director of beach services.
Greg Kisela, a deputy county administrator in Okaloosa County, said for the most part, the county dodged erosion impacts, but photos taken after the storm passed showed Destin’s Holiday Isle had suffered.
“There was not a lot of beach before, and the storm took more,” Kisela said.
A survey to assess the complete storm damage to the county beaches is yet to be conducted, Kisela said.
Jetty East, a condominium complex on Holiday Isle, could be the Okaloosa County property most impacted by severe erosion. Its general manager, Darell Fink, said on one recent occasion garbage collectors were unable to pick up trash because there was not enough sand behind the condominium to allow a vehicle to get in.
“We lose a little bit more and a little bit more and a little bit more,” Fink said. “One day we’re going to come in and it will all be gone.”
As a heavy contributor to county bed tax revenues, Fink believes Jetty East is entitled to receive an infusion of sand to renourish its beaches.
Kisela said the county is hopeful it will be able to temporarily rebuild the Holiday Isle beaches by February, and get required permitting to dredge the East Pass and provide more permanent beach renourishment by 2021.