Bay County seeing coastal erosion due to Hurricane Sally

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PANAMA CITY BEACH Fla. (WMBB) — Known as the world’s most beautiful beaches Bay County has very fine sand prone to shifting, which can now be seen due to Hurricane Sally.

A Bay County Coastal engineer said because of Hurricane Sally, there was an increased storm surge and officials are still assessing damages.

Hurricane Sally did not just bring flooding, the beach shifted due to storm surge.

“Backed everything up along the dune line and luckily that is the extent of where it came to here on the beach, it was up to the dune line and the dunes do a really good job of holding the beach together,” said Wil Spivey the Panama City Beach Fire Rescue Safety Director.

Spivey said the surge was more than what was forecasted.

“So you might see the shorelines change in some areas in terms of the contour of the drop-off,” said Spivey.

In an open water environment, Spivey said caution should always be used but especially when there are major drops off entering into the water.

“There is like a downward slope, and my son went down the hill and I was like, oh where did he go,” said Heather Chafin who is visiting from Atlanta.

Because of the drop-off, there is not much visibility along the shoreline.

“Erosion from Hurricane Sally, she came in and took a lot of sand with her,” said Chafin.

Coastal Engineer Lisa Armbruster said the sand loss is seen from Hurricane Sally but it is too soon to know the extent of the damage.

“Right now we are still assessing the damage seen from Hurricane Sally however yes we do visually see a change in the beach,” Armbruster said.

Panama City Beach is a part of a federal shore protection project and Armbruster said beaches in the area have been renourished a handful of times. 

“It has served us well over a number of years to protect upland structures and infrastructure from damage from storms just like this,” said Armbruster.

Although damage and erosion is not the only concern, Spivey said they have seen a lot of debris floating around in the water as well, so visitors should use caution at Bay County’s beaches.

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