October 2015 Nor’easter
November 12, 2015 Bethany Beach Nor’easter Update, Compliments of Rachael Pacella, Delmarva Now
On an early afternoon run Chris Racine of Bethany Beach paused at the top of a sand dune to take a picture of the ocean.
He was standing at the top of a dune that, while intact, still has a scar from severe erosion that occurred in early October during a Nor’easter-like storm. The erosion carved a cliff taller than a person into the sand dune, which still remains.
Racine isn’t worried about it.
“Pretty normal after a storm,” he said. “It did its job, protected the houses and all that,” he said.
Racine was able to get down to the beach easily because access has been restored to boardwalk entrances. Where there was yellow caution tape a month ago, warning visitors of the steep ledge, there is now sand piled up to form a slope at the entrances.
As more sand makes its way back to the shore, state beach specialist Dan Brower said they will continue to push that material up to rebuild the dunes.
A steep cliff in an eroded dune in Bethany Beach. (Photo by Rachael Pacella)
The chances of that happening over the winter are slim, he said, because natural cycles bring sand away form the beach in the winter time. In late spring that cycle reverses itself, bringing the sand back to the shore.
The dunes could be rebuilt even more with beach replenishment, but that is a long way away. Bethany is scheduled for maintenance from the Army Corps of Engineers in 2017, and probably won’t see nourishment sooner, because the October storm didn’t have as bad an impact on the coast as Hurricane Sandy, Brower said.
The state is ready with the money they need to match the Army Corps to complete the beach replenishment, which is scheduled, but funding on the federal side is not yet guaranteed, Brower said.
“There is reason to believe they’ll be successful,” he said.
The beach is a dynamic place, constantly changing, so Brower was unable to estimate the cost of the project, saying that closer to 2017 the Corps would survey the area, which would allow for a cost estimate.
In the meantime, the state will continue to maintain the beaches and dunes with a year-round crew dedicated to that cause full-time.
A close up of dune grass, which helps keep the dunes together. (Photo by Rachael Pacella)
Some of the signs telling people to stay off the dunes have fallen down, but it is still important not to climb on them, which could cause more erosion. In one spot someone carved a smiling face into the face of the dune — a well-meaning gesture that is an example of what not to do.
“People who walk up to it freak out, but it’s kind of normal for this time of year,” Racine said. “We try to build that defense, but it’s very unnatural.”
October 7, 2015 Update: The flooded areas are almost completely dry and cleanup crews are hard at work.
October 6, 2015 Update: The sun is shining in Fenwick Island for the first time in almost a week !
October 5, 2015, Monday Morning Storm Update: The storm has passed but areas in Bethany Beach are still flooded, mainly on the north side of the downtown. Route 1 is now open in both directions from Dewey to Bethany Beach and while Fred Hudson remains closed, some cars are traveling in the center. There is a steep drop to access the beaches in Bethany and South Bethany but there are quite a few people out walking along the shoreline this morning.
October 4, 2015 Storm Update: Still flooding and rough surf in Bethany Beach, but no major power outages or additional damage that we are aware of. Meteorologist report that wind gusts are exceeding 30mph this morning.
A compilation of storm photos collected Saturday Morning, October 3, 2015. Some road flooding, downed power lines, trees & a collapsed deck in Sea Colony, but overall damage is minimal. Feeling grateful that Hurricane Joaquin is shifting away from shore. Winds are still strong, but the rain has subsided. The next high tide in Bethany Beach is 1:25pm.