South Siesta Renourishment Project, completed in late April, appears to have fared well, with loss of sand in just one area
Although by most accounts Tropical Storm Colin did not leave as much damage in its wake this week as Tropical Storm Debby did in 2012, Sarasota County Environmental Protection Division staff has detailed some beach erosion, based on assessments it conducted on June 6 and 7, The Sarasota News Leader has learned.
Overall impacts varied between keys, the resulting June 7 report says, but “staff observed that high tide events and wave energy in the Gulf of Mexico during Tropical Storm (TS) Colin caused approximately 5 to 10 feet of dune erosion in some areas on Casey Key and Manasota Key, and resulted in beachfront flooding on north Siesta Key.”
The report points out that the South Siesta Beach Nourishment Project area “was not significantly impacted by TS Colin [although] the very southern end of the project area at 9230 Blind Pass Road experienced approximately 50 feet of sand loss,” and an escarpment of 1 to 2 feet was formed.
The last of the sand for the $21.5-million South Siesta project was put on the beach on April 26, staff noted during an April 27 County Commission workshop.
“At this time, there have been no reports from the public regarding damage to Gulf-front homes resulting from beach erosion,” the June 7 report points out. “We have not received any requests for Class I Emergency Variances (pursuant to the Coastal Setback Code), but staff is prepared to process any such applications in a streamlined manner.”
Limited beach erosion was seen at the majority of the beaches in Sarasota County, the report continues, and in some locations, “sand was deposited on the beaches both from the dune area and the offshore sand bars.”
The report notes that Colin “caused property damage to several dune walkover/stairs structures, and caused loss of dune vegetation and trees in localized areas. Staff has received three phone calls regarding damage to dune walkover structures and seawalls.”
Additionally, it says, “Many early season sea turtle nests were also impacted and nest markers were down or washed away.”
The report offered more details about specific areas:
“Beachfront flooding brought layers of sands onto the northern end of Beach Road at north Siesta Key. No flooding was observed at Sanderling Road and the private portion of Blind Pass Road at south Siesta Key,” the report notes.
Property damage to dune walkover and stairs structures, wooden decks and gazebos was documented, “particularly in the middle section of Casey Key,” the report adds, but no home damage was observed in areas assessed by staff.
TS Colin caused limited loss of dune vegetation and trees, as well as impacts to sea turtle nests and nest markers, the report says. “Several palm trees were observed downed on the beach and undermined seagrapes and palm trees were also noted.”
The report continues, “Dune erosion at 2120 Casey Key Road has exposed the southern return wall associated with the seawall structure at 2201-2207 Casey Key Road. The eroded bluff south of the return wall on 2120 Casey Key Road is within approximately 3 feet of the pavement. We have conveyed this information to Emergency Operation Center staff who have forwarded this information to Road and Bridges staff for further evaluation,” the report notes, referring to county personnel.
“No storm-generated foundation damage was observed at the existing residential structure at 2007 Casey Key Road,” the report adds. “Most of the recently placed sand underneath the wooden deck has been washed away,” it says, though “previously installed sand bags continue to provide protection to the foundation.”
Further, “A resident reported that seawall at 2417 Casey Key Road was undermined.”
“A continued trend of dune erosion and loss of dune vegetation and palm trees was observed at Caspersen Beach Park,” the report notes.
“Loss of sea turtle nests and nest markers was observed.”
Along with the beach and dune erosion on portions of Manasota Key and North Manasota Key, approximately 400 cubic yards of recently placed sand and planted vegetation at 860 N. Manasota Key Road was eroded away, the report continues.
“No significant beach and dune erosion was observed at Manasota Public Beach,” it says. After the storm, the beach profile has become more gentle and gradual suggesting that some sand was brought back to the beaches in this area.”
Flooding and power
The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office kept the public advised of temporary road flooding by posting reports on its Facebook page. For example, at one point on June 6, deputies had to close the intersection of Beach Road and Avenida Veneccia on Siesta Key because water was over the road.
On June 7, Lauren Hatchell, a public relations consultant who works with the Florida Department of Transportation in Sarasota County, told the News Leader that FDOT had had no reports of significant issues as a result of the rainfall produced by Colin.
The primary area where standing water was noted was at the intersection of Bee Ridge Road and U.S. 41, where a construction project in underway, she added. Nonetheless, she said, after bursts of rain ceased, the standing water drained off quickly.
During the June 6 City Commission meeting, City Manger Tom Barwin advised the public to avoid the intersection of U.S. 41 and Gulfstream Avenue, noting that that area typically floods during heavy downpours.
As for power outages: County Commission Vice Chair Paul Caragiulo took the opportunity during the board’s June 7 meeting to thank Florida Power & Light for “a terrific job” in restoring power to 35,000 customers who lost it during the storm. He added that crews were “on the street till the wee hours of the morning.”