How to Build and Maintain a Storm Resilient Dune Structure

Frederique Beroset MBA & M.S. in Biology

Anyone who has lived on the Florida coast long enough has their own story about the unpredictable beauty and power of the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean. Names like Andrew, Opal, Ivan, Katrina, Dennis, Wilma and Irma are burned into the fabric of what makes life on the coast so unique – and at times precarious. It doesn’t take long for newcomers to Florida to learn what “locals” know; the secret to storm preparation is to be proactive, and not reactive. We all know the Sunshine State has its fair share of ways to be proactive: sunscreen during the day, a ready-supply of blended ice for sunset cocktails, and a map to the “perfect” stretch of secluded beach on which to stargaze! Unfortunately, the beauty of Florida can often beguile visitors and residents alike; our climate has the ability to be an unforgiving teacher to the unprepared.

For those involved in property management or ownership along the coast you probably already recognize that our coastal dune ecosystems are the first line of defense for property and people in the event of storm surge. Post-storm evaluations made note after Hurricane Sandy that resiliency structures like sand dunes played an important role in reducing the impact on coastal communities in New Jersey. While no one would make the case that sand dunes alone can completely mitigate hurricane damage, we often forget that these structures play a vital role in storm surge management by absorbing the impact of high surf and mitigating damage to property from other common weather events like tropical storms. As a result, a well thought out plan for proactive dune preservation, protection, optimization and maintenance could reduce the costs and special assessments for post-storm repair.

Dune Doctors is a Pensacola based company familiar with the risk of storm related damage and routinely works with clients to create a proactive storm resiliency plan before the next storm hits. Owner, Frederique Beroset says, “Most Floridian’s would not think to wait till the day before a storm to fuel their car or buy supplies; so, in the same way waiting to react after a storm is just as costly.” Since the cost of insurance and the related deductibles has steadily increased over past storm seasons more and more people are understanding the need to include a long-term dune master plan in their storm preparations.

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