SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV)— Hurricanes Matthew, Irma, and Dorian broke down the protective barrier keeping Tybee Island from flooding during tropical storms and hurricanes.
Now, the city of Tybee is working to rebuild those sand dunes as a part of their beach renourishment project.
“I personally visited New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy and saw with my own two eyes just how important it is to fill in the gaps in the dune field because those are like having a crack in a dam and you don’t want that to happen,” Mayor of Tybee Island Jason Buelterman said.
Buelterman says it’s critical for Tybee Island to renourish the dune field along the beaches. Otherwise, when a tropical storm or hurricane approaches, the community can experience significant flooding from storm surge.
Tybee experienced flooding because of gaps in the dune field during Hurricane Matthew and Irma, but Buelterman says it could’ve been worse.
“We’re lucky that we had a healthy beach and a healthy dune system as those storms approached a couple of years ago and that prevented a lot of damages to our community and homes and businesses,” Buelterman said.
After Hurricane Dorian, the dunes have eroded even more. Now, it’s vital to build them back up again, especially in the south end of Tybee.
“Obviously Sandy was a lot worse than Irma or Matthew was so if we experience something along the lines of a Sandy or worse we’re hopeful that having a dune field will provide some level of protection for Tybee,” Buelterman said.
The $14 million project will take about a month and a half to complete. Sand will be pumped from the ocean floor up to the dunes to create a protective barrier.
Only about five percent of the beach will be closed at a time.
Some Tybee residents say the noise keeps them up at night since the contractors are pumping the sand 24 hours a day until the project is completed.
“It’s a vital thing that needs to be done if we want Tybee to continue to sustain life,” Tybee Island resident Cindy Orr said. “It feels like they’re across the street from my house but I don’t know, they’re here. And I live at the center of the island. But I hear the beeping.”
Buelterman says they plan to have the project finished by mid-January.