Weeks after eating away at Palm Beach County's coastline, Hurricane Sandy on Tuesday took a $1.5 million bite out of local taxpayers' money.
The County Commission approved spending the money on proposed erosion fixes needed for beach parks and other shoreline areas and facilities suffering from storm erosion.
While Sandy didn't come ashore in South Florida, it churned up the ocean and eroded miles of county beaches. The storm and big waves that followed washed away sand, broke through dunes, toppled lifeguard stands, cracked sidewalks and damaged boardwalks that lead to beaches.
The use of emergency funds approved Tuesday will help replace protective beach dunes and rock barriers and start fixing public access areas at county beach parks and other facilities.
The goal is to restore waterfront attractions relied on for tourism and protect battered beach parks from further erosion.
"We have to do this," Commissioner Priscilla Taylor said. "It is necessary."
This initial influx of money is aimed at addressing the most immediate erosion damage and more help is needed, according to county officials. The county estimates that Sandy caused about $20 million worth of damage to public beaches stretching from Juno Beach to Boca Raton.
Jupiter Beach Park and Carlin Park in Jupiter are slated to get new boardwalks and lifeguard towers. Dubois Park needs a new rock barrier and repairs to the damaged snorkeling lagoon. Coral Cove Park in Tequesta needs to have damaged dunes reinforced.
Plans also call for fixing erosion-fighting rock barriers on the popular boater destination, Peanut Island.
The South Lake Worth Inlet requires immediate repairs to restore public access and protect against additional erosion threats, according to the county. That includes repairs to the sand transfer plant and jetty.
So far, the federal government has been unwilling to help pay for fixing Florida storm damage left in Sandy's wake.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency rejected Florida's request for $67.2 million in disaster aid for Sandy's erosion. FEMA determined that Florida's storm damage wasn't severe enough to trigger federal help.
State officials are planning to appeal FEMA's decision.
If successful, some of the nearly $1.5 million in local money approved Tuesday for erosion fixes could be reimbursed by the federal government, said Daniel Bates, Palm Beach County's deputy director of Environmental Resources Management.
Florida this year was also initially rejected FEMA funding after Tropical Storm Isaac, only to end up getting federal relief after trying again.
County Commission Chairman Steven Abrams joked that the timing — after the presidential election — of Florida's new push for more FEMA money didn't help efforts.
"Unfortunately the request came after Nov. 6," Abrams said.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Latest Local News Stories