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.

Recommended Articles

International Coastal Cleanup Day in Destin, Florida!

On September 16th, volunteers from Dune Doctors gathered at Norriego Point, a sandy peninsula surrounded by the brackish waters (where salty and fresh water mix) of the Destin Pass. Norriego Point, nominated one of the best restored beaches in 2020 by the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association, sits where the Choctawhatchee Bay meets the […]
Read More

The Day a Sea Turtle Ran the Seaside 5K Race

It’s February 19th, the day of the 2023 Seaside 5K and half Marathon. After a spirited team huddle, I wobbled over to the start line. Turtle shell glistening, beak clamped, flippers pointed! GO! Off I jogged with my brother Alex, three dune sunflowers, two Dune Doctors, and eleven runners in toe. Slowly one by one, […]
Read More

Gulf Shores Students Lead Dune Restoration West of the Gulf State Park Pier

On a sunny Thursday morning, the dune mice that live to the west of the Gulf State Park Pier woke up to a crew of 200 Gulf Shores City School students ready to expand their habitat. In record time, the motivated volunteers installed 3,000 sea oats along a quarter-mile stretch of beach. Their goal was […]
Read More