FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. – As Flagler Beach sees strong rip tides and big swells as a result of Hurricane Fiona in the Atlantic, the city is preparing for possible dune erosion as a tropical depression moving through the Caribbean is on track toward Florida.
In Flagler Beach, where the concern has already been high when it comes to beach erosion, the possibility of a storm has area leaders on edge wondering how much worse their dunes could get.
City Manager William Whitson said the county has been monitoring the dunes by drone as Tropical Depression 9 began to organize in the Caribbean Sea Friday. City officials have already seen the dunes slowly inch closer to A1A.
“Very nervous, very weary. We are at the EOS monitoring the status of the storm,” Whitson said.
It’s also a bit worrisome for residents seeing the damage already there and business owners along A1A.
“We have a (nonprofit) group, Flagler Strong, that was created specifically for hurricanes and... our business bureau, comes together and the city and the police chief and we communicate on, ‘Hey, this is what’s going on.’ There (are) sight plans already activated,” said Johnny Lulgjuraj, owner of Oceanside Bar and Grille.
Lulgjuraj saw what Hurricane Matthew did outside of his restaurant in 2016, washing away the dunes and taking a big chunk of A1A with it.
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“There were so many people that were impacted. I almost thought I lost everything and fortunately the governor was resilient. We got everything back, but the dunes over this past summer. It’s been scary,” he said.
Whitson said right now they are working with the county emergency operations center and the Florida Department of Transportation to make sure they have sand supply ready to bring in to reinforce the road if needed.
“We’ve sourced the sand that would come in, so we don’t have to spend a lot of time going through those exercises and procurement operations,” he said.
The current five-day forecast cone has the storm impacting Florida as a Category 3 hurricane, but the track is expected to change.
“While it is too early to tell what sort of impacts, if any, the storm will pose for Flagler County, this weekend is the perfect time to make sure you are ready for any potential hurricane,” Emergency Management Director Jonathan Lord said in a release.
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