BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — In St. Andrews State Park, beach erosion and damaged beach accesses serve as indicators of Hurricane Sally’s impacts on the area.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is currently assessing the damage to the park; DEP officials said Sally only exacerbated erosion issues that have been going on over the last couple years due to other storms.
Several beach accesses are closed in the park due to major structural damage and dunes look more like cliffs as the storm surge sent waves crashing into the sand, displacing it.
“When we first walked out here we were just amazed at the difference in what it looked like,” said Jared Cales, a park visitor. “It’s part of just the natural cycle, but to be honest with you, it’s something that reminds us that we all need to do our part in.”
Some residents said it’s the worst they’ve seen in some time.
“Everything, looks [so much] different,” said Savannah Simmons, a Panama City Beach resident. “It’s dark, it’s beach where it wasn’t, you know, it’s just a lot different.”
DEP is working with the US Army Corps of Engineers to formulate a restoration plan in both the short and long-term futures.
Over the next two weeks, they’ll be dredging the federal navigation channel and using the dredged sand to rebuild the dunes.
This winter, the park will be included in a bigger beach restoration project going on across Panama City Beach.
DEP officials said there will be more restoration projects in the park over the next two years to further strengthen and protect the shoreline.
In the meantime, residents and visitors said they hope to see improvements soon.
“We’re a bit sad,” Simmons said. “I hope it goes back so that the water stays beautiful, [and] clear.”