FLAGLER BEACH – A report released by the Flagler Beach city government estimates that the damages administered by Hurricane Ian total almost $2 million. The main expenditures to return the city to its former glory are the pier, city-owned buildings, and dune walkovers.
The Mott MacDonald Group, a consulting group based in the United Kingdom, was contracted by the city to inspect the damages and deliver an estimate. The results were delivered by the Flagler Beach Police Department’s Facebook page, the city’s most effective tool for public outreach.
The iconic Flagler Beach Pier has been chopped from 686 feet in length down to 524 feet. Almost a quarter of the pier’s original structure was destroyed and swept away in the ocean; a large piece of it was seen on camera floating away during the storm and its present whereabouts are unknown. Any recovered debris from the pier is hopeless to reattach, and represents nothing more than a potential underwater hazard for surfers and swimmers.
The repairs necessary to restore the pier are tentatively estimated to cost $650,000. Already there’s been debate over whether the expenditure is even worth the city’s time, as it’s already decided to launch a $12.5 million rebuild project in the near future. Insurance payouts for Hurricane Ian damage could wind up covering part of the cost to rebuild the pier. The new pier will be over 100 feet longer than the current pier was before Ian, and it will be made of sturdier concrete.
Also of note are the city’s dune walkovers. As of Wednesday afternoon, only 13 of the city’s 52 walkovers were still open for use, with the other 39 ‘severely damaged’ and closed off to the public. The costs to repair those was pegged at $1.12 million.
The last major expenditure is the city’s facilities, including the city library and public works building. This damage was listed at $112,000, the most palatable of the major repairs.
A release from the Flagler County government on Thursday morning detailed an erosion survey which was conducted post-hurricane, with results showing measured pessimism. “There is a lot of critical erosion, and it is getting worse in the days following the storm,” said Faith Alkhatib, the County Engineer. “There is a lot of coordination going on as we assess the situation. It will take some time – maybe two weeks – and we will have a better idea of where we stand.”
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Florida Department of Transportation, and Florida Department of Environmental Protection have been on the ground in Flagler Beach assessing the state of the beach and A1A roadway. A1A is still mostly intact, save for a portion south of Moody Blvd which is blocked off and detoured due to a portion of collapsed asphalt. FDOT is working on repairing this section.
A project is slated to begin in 2023 in which the Army Corps of Engineers will tackle dune erosion between South 6th St and South 28th St, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Another hurricane with comparable effects on the dunes to Ian could result in the loss of parts of A1A, similar to what happened with Hurricane Matthew in 2017.