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Wicked nor’easter brings pounding 11-foot waves, damaging beaches


Island beaches already damaged by Hurricane Irma got slammed again last week by the nor'easter that nailed the eastern seaboard, bringing high winds and pounding seas from New England to South Florida.

Indian River County Coastal Engineer James Gray says south county beaches suffered the most significant damage, with dunes eaten up by 10- and 11-foot waves that peaked last Tuesday.

Beaches “are still being impacted by the continuing wind and rough surf. We're still assessing the damage. We're hearing from a few homes with acute erosional impact,” Gray said.

According to Vero Beach City Manager Jim O'Connor, city beaches still recovering from Irma “did see some erosion, but seem to be stable. Humiston Park did lose a couple of trash containers, but we found them, headed south.”

O'Connor noted that the storm had apparently caused sand accretion at South Beach, which is situated to catch sand washed off beaches to its north.

Beaches in the Town of Orchid also suffered serious dune erosion in the January storm, exacerbating the major damage suffered in last year's hurricane. “With much of the slope already gone,” there was little protection when the winter storm hit, said Town Manager Noah Powers.

The Town Council recently raised taxes to create an emergency beach repair fund.
The Sebastian Inlet, too, sustained “quite a bit” of damage. "We lost an additional five feet of dune height south of the inlet,” Sebastian Inlet State Park Manager Kevin Jones said.