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Dorian erodes an estimated 'several million dollars of sand' in Brevard

'Sacrificial sand' spares beaches from more severe erosion

MELBOURNE BEACH, Fla. – Hurricane Dorian went easy on most Brevard beaches, but carved steep cliffs along some shoreline, exposing threatened sea turtle nests and snapping parts of some dune crossovers.

Brevard County officials reported 4- to 6-foot dune cliffs at Bonsteel Park south of Melbourne Beach. But officials assured that sand placed on the beaches in recent years buffered Brevard from what could have been much more damaging erosion, according to News 6 partner Florida Today.

"Our assessment team began looking at beach erosion from Hurricane Dorian pre-dawn this morning, starting south county," Don Walker, a Brevard County spokesman said Wednesday (Sept. 4) via email. "Generally, they've reported big scarps but not as close to buildings as prior years. We are guessing several million dollars of sand losses but the sacrificial sand appeared to do its job protecting infrastructure."

Walker described sacrificial sand as follows:

"Sand is out in place on beach and dune knowing it will be first 'hit' before ocean gets to upland Infrastructure or homes. Much like a football blocker sacrifices a few bruises to protect QB (quarter back). This sand is not 'lost' during storms it moves to sandbar where it continues to provide protection to shoreline."

Storms such as Dorian that approach parallel to shore and ride the coastline tend to cause the worst beach erosion, officials said. And the "new" moon cycle that began Aug. 30 generated higher-than-usual high tides, but Dorian's curve east helped spare the Space Coast a worst-case scenario.

The worst-case scenario for beach erosion is a strong storm that hugs the coastline for a long period of time, officials said, continuously stripping the beach of sand.

County staff monitors the beaches to see if dune crossovers or other structures require repairs or if the total damage triggers  federal financial assistance. They plan to continue to gather information in coming days to quantify erosion and other damages.