Storm heightens concern of beach erosion

Powerful waves could wreak havoc along shore

HUTCHINSON ISLAND, Fla. - South Florida may not be seeing a direct hit from Hurricane Irene, but the storm is definitely making its presence known along the coastline. At Hutchinson Island's Bathtub Beach, winds were gusting up to 35 miles an hour, while powerful waves pounded the shore. The area is known for its normally calm conditions; however, that was not the case on Thursday.

As the waves made their way closer to shore, the storm could pose a threat to the people who call the area home.

Ted Brown has ocean front property, but his Hutchinson Island home is pretty much in the middle of Bathtub Beach these days.

"We've lived here 32 years," he recalls. "We've had damage from hurricanes."

Over the years, erosion has forced the beach to close and it just re-opened last May after undergoing a major resoration project.

Martin County engineer Kathy Fitzpatrick said while the homes in the area were safe, high water levels could wash over McArthur Boulevard, washing out the road for more than 250 residents in that area.

Officials will be checking for erosion on Friday, noting that while the storm could wash away the beach, the waves and tides could also be capable of bringing more sand inland.

Fitzpatrick said Martin County is also looking at future projects to help the area, including trucking in additional sand and building up the dune system.

Kristyn Caddell contributed to this report.

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