Hurricane Idalia caused major destruction to Pinellas County beaches. The county’s new emergency beach restoration project is projected to cost upwards of $20 million dollars.
Dr. John Bishop is the Pinellas County Coastal Management Coordinator.
“After Hurricane Idalia, our beaches were the most eroded that I’ve seen since I’ve been here. We’ve lost dunes across the county, and we were probably one of the worst hit for beach erosion from Idalia in the state. So we’ve been working tirelessly to try to put some protection in place.”
Sand dunes have been constructed on Sunset Beach to provide storm protection lost during Idalia. A contractor is planting vegetation, mostly sea oats, to help hold the sand in place.
They’re also working on projects in Pass-a-Grille, Bellair, and Upham Beach, and they’re going to begin a project in Indian Rocks Beach.
The funding comes from the tourism development tax, sometimes called the “bed tax”. It’s a 6 percent tax for tourists who stay at overnight accommodations. Brian Lowack is the President of Visit St.Pete/Clearwater.
“Because we have such a booming tourism economy, we had the funds available within our current framework to come out here and make sure that we could act quickly and repair these dunes.”
Pinellas County officials remind beachgoers to stay off the sand dunes and away from construction sites.