University of Delaware
delware environmental institute

News Journal: As winds ease, Delaware storm and flood tallies begin

Delaware and the rest of the Mid-Atlantic headed back into more typical October weather as high water slowly drained from repeatedly flooded areas along the Atlantic coast and Delaware Bay. It exposed massive beach loss in some areas and raised fears that replenishment won't come until 2017.

Local concerns were greatest in the state's southeast corner, where South Bethany officials reported a huge loss of sand along the community's oceanfront, creating a sharp and fragile sand cliff from 4 to 12 feet high or taller. The steep drop and dozens of badly eroded dune crossings made the beach inaccessible from within the town.

And a big fix to repair the damage isn't likely to come anytime soon.

The town, and nearby Bethany Beach, where there was also significant dune erosion, aren't in line for another major beach maintenance project until 2017, said Anthony P. Pratt, the state's shoreline and waterway manager.

Pratt said that once the ocean recedes – even at low tide there was very little visible beach and no dry sand Monday at South Bethany – state crews will wait for sand on a near-shore bar to start moving back to shore. That should happen as winds diminish and the beach begins to recover over the next few days. Once sand starts moving back in, state crews can go in and begin to rebuild the beach, he said. In the meantime, they can stabilize the dune drop-off and build crossings so residents and visitors can once again reach the beach, he said.