Progress made on Singer Island after Hurricane Sandy erodes its beaches

SINGER ISLAND, Fla. -- Three months after Hurricane Sandy battered the beaches of this coastal community there are signs of progress and a growing movement driven by residents to build seawalls to protect their high-dollar high-rise condominiums.

On Tuesday afternoon, demolition crews were in the process of removing the Sandy-compromised seawall at The Reaches in the 5200 block of North Ocean Drive.

"I am glad to see that they are doing something," said Gerri Heitin, a Singer Island resident. "The bricks were all lifted and you could see inside. It looked like a cave."

Sandy tore away at the Singer Island shoreline with relentless force and renewed calls for a permanent solution to erosion after some condominiums were left seven to twelve feet from a fifteen-foot drop to the ocean.

Tons of new sand was brought in to renourish the beach but the worries continued.

"The dune is normally a part of a natural beach that will come and go," said Daniel Bates, a deputy director at the Palm Beach County Department of Environmental Resources Management. "When it doesn't have that kind of room then they are vulnerable."

Several high-rise condominiums have hired engineers ahead of the next storm to decide whether seawalls are a solution.

Some said the seawalls were as controversial as the calls for jetties and breakwaters because of the endangered sea turtles that nest on the beach.

"There's nothing you can really do," said Heitin. "That's an act of life here with the water. Even with the wall I think we're still going to need sand. But, there's nothing you can do. You can't stop the ocean."

Several buildings with permits to build seawalls were given the approval to build them before Sandy.

The process to build a seawall, which is often lengthy, is considered by the Department of Environmental Protection on a case-by-case basis.

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