While residents and municipalities have focused on saving lives, salvaging items from flooded homes, and accounting for loved ones, at some point the recovery process will begin along Florida’s Panhandle in the aftermath of the deadly and devastating Hurricane Michael.
As water levels recede, community associations and the government officials should survey the devastation that occurred under water during this storm along with the other damaged areas. While the flooding could not have been prevented, these cities should begin the shoreline repairs along river beds and the coast so that the land will be fortified in the event of another storm.
While survival has been the initial first concern, as time passes and some semblance of normalcy returns, the next step is restoring shorelines to prevent further damage, injury, and home loss.
This storm is also a reminder to all boards of directors throughout Florida that they should continually monitor erosion in their communities to maintain safe conditions for residents and to make repairs as they become necessary.
Keep in mind that shoreline erosion is common and results even from fluctuations caused by rainfall that doesn’t approach the levels of a hurricane. So, what should Florida residents and associations look for on a regular basis?
It is likely that land along the shorelines will be unstable and in many cases collapse. This results in dangerous conditions that will make walking along waterfront property hazardous. Other things to look for during regular inspections include the following:
- Cable lines will most likely be exposed, further delaying restoration of electrical and Internet service.
- Landscapers, electrical contractors, and others will face significant challenges and dangers when using heavy equipment on this de-stabilized land.
- Homes will remain at risk of flooding as well as falling into rivers/lakes due to water that has encroached under foundations.
- The collapsed land also clogs waterways.
These conditions and others will present themselves well beyond the current hurricane season and into the winter dry season. The time for repairs is during the dry season, in preparation for another hurricane or torrential rains.
There are many solutions to restoring these shorelines. In most cases, affordability, ease of installation, rapid restoration, and environmental concerns should be at the forefront of boards of directors and government officials during the decision-making process. It is also important to identify solutions that can be quickly installed.
Over the last few years, installation of appropriate fill material and vegetation held in place by mesh has proven very successful in restoring living shorelines. Many associations and municipalities are turning to this environmentally safe and effective product instead of rock and other less effective erosion control products.
In addition to being very cost effective, this erosion control revegetation system features the following benefits:
- Newly sodded and restored shorelines serve as a filter, preventing excess phosphorus and nitrites from entering the waterways. This, in turn, improves water quality.
- From an aesthetic standpoint, these waterways are now able to sustain vibrant, native plant life which offers better views than collapsed land filled with mud and algae.
- Once installed, these products actually save municipalities, associations, and golf courses significant money because they are long lasting solutions.
- The SOX system has the ability to mold and shape the shoreline back to its original form.
- It stabilizes land, making it safe for residents, golfers, and landscape professionals.
It will be months before addressing shoreline restoration becomes a focus in the Panhandle. Other homeowner associations, which were spared, however, should implement regular inspections and research solutions that fit their specific needs. However, it will be important to address this in a way to prevent further damage and injury during dry and rainy seasons. A layered and systematic approach to shoreline restoration is critical to recovery after an event as damaging as Hurricane Michael.