When Hurricane Hermine swept through Manatee County last year, it took sand from Anna Maria Island beaches with it.
As a way to return the sand that was lost from beach erosion during the storm, which brought heavy rains and flooding to the county last September, the county is preparing to ask the Federal Emergency Management Agency for an estimated $6.9 million in disaster relief funding for beach erosion. That’s part of the estimated $9.3 million total the county is seeking for Hermine damage that occurred in unincorporated Manatee County.
“The storm passing our shore created a long-term wave pattern that pulled a portion of the renourished sand offshore to deeper water such that the waves in the ensuing weeks and months will not be able to capture and return that sand to the dry beach,” said Charlie Hunsicker, the county’s parks and natural resources director. “Because of that, those losses are eligible to be recovered using the FEMA funding at 75 percent of the cost.”
While the exact cost of public assistance requested will not be finalized for another couple months, the county commission is expected to authorize commission Chairwoman Betsy Benac on Tuesday to sign the FEMA-State Agreement to receive the funding from FEMA and the State of Florida Division of Emergency Management.
“This is just the agreement that FEMA is working with us for any damages that occurred from Hurricane Hermine,” said Jan Brewer, the county’s financial management director.
While the agreement is only for damage that Manatee County government suffered in unincorporated county, FEMA is also working on private assistance, according to Brewer.
The estimated costs Manatee County has submitted to FEMA are: $29,875 for debris clearance, $27,154 for protective measures, $850,720 for road system, $882,870 for water control facility and $6,912,267 for other such as beach erosion.
“These are still estimated costs,” Brewer said, adding that the funding should come within the next couple years. “Each department went through and did assessments as to the damage. We rolled those up to different categories and we forwarded that to FEMA.”
The county is still working on what are called project worksheets, which detail the exact projects needed and the final cost, Brewer said.
“This is a normal process for FEMA to get the agreement into place,” she said. “They have been working with us since Hermine to get these worksheets built.”
With the commission’s approval of the agreement, the grant from FEMA will be established, according to agenda materials. Federal reimbursement from FEMA is 75 percent, with the state and county share being the remaining 25 percent.
“In the FEMA recovery process, the next step is the establishment of exact reimbursement calculations which are currently underway with FEMA,” according to the materials.
About 75 percent of the sand lost during Hurricane Hermine has returned through natural processes. Hunsicker said the remaining 25 percent lost will be returned to the beaches “utilizing the same methods used to place the sand there in the first place — with an offshore dredge and pipes and pumps and bulldozers to work the sand along the beach.”
The storm’s erosion occurred along the entire coastline, but only certain areas are eligible for funding, Hunsicker said.
“The areas eligible for FEMA assistance are limited only to those portions of the island which were nourished using only state and local funding such as Coquina Beach and the north shore of Anna Maria Island,” he said.
The three recently completed groins on Cortez Beach held on during the storm, Hunsicker said.
“They did a good job in keeping the sand in place during the passing storm,” he said. “If we had a landfall or hurricane, you would have seen completely different losses up and down the island where the beach itself would have been sacrificed.”