ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. — St. Johns County beaches were hit with a one-two punch to the beaches after Nicole and Ian hit within about a month.
Dr. Joe Giammanco, the director of Emergency Management for St. Johns County, said the dunes stood up to Ian, but Nicole eroded away millions of dollars of projects.
“Nicole just devastated what was left,” he said. “If you want the full renourishment back to pre-Matthew conditions, it’s going to be very expensive.”
FEMA worked on renourishment projects after Hurricanes Matthew and Irma that stretched 11 miles and cost $33 million. Nicole set those projects back close to square one.
While the county won’t know exactly how much sand the storm wiped away until after surveys, Dr. Giammanco said Ian was worse than Matthew in 2016. Nicole added another layer of devastation.
“It was a long-lasting coastal event. It wasn’t a typical hurricane where you come in with one or two tide cycles and the storm goes away — this was a couple days.”
Dr. Giammanco added that it could take years before the beaches return to their 2015 status before Hurricane Matthew struck.
In October, commissioners approved $320,000 to help get easements along 25 miles of coast which would start the process for FEMA funding and a better idea of where the easements would be.
County Administrator Hunter Conrad also provided an update to county commissioners Tuesday.
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A total of 516 homes were impacted, including 70 with major damage, and an estimated $34 million in total damage. Unlike Ian, FEMA has not provided individual assistance for residents yet. However, Conrad told commissioners that they are writing letters to lawmakers in hopes of getting funding soon.