There are several projects happening simultaneously on the south end of Tybee. Below is an update on the status of these projects and how they are being paid for along with updates on several related matters:
-The first phase of our dune construction project is approaching completion. We received $5,000,000 grant to rebuild our beach and dunes after Hurricanes Matthew and Irma in 2018 caused so much damage. These funds were secured by State Representative Jesse Petrea and State Senator Ben Watson. The first phase of this project is being funded 100% by this grant leaving the remainder of the grants proceeds to fund the next phases of the project at other areas of the beach. The goal of phase 1 is to fill in the gaps in the dune system between 16th and 19th Streets. Water flowed through these gaps during Irma and Matthew which resulted in damage to many properties on the south end of the Island. This is the first phase of a multi-step project designed to fortify our dunes. As of last Friday, all of the sand has been delivered. The sand was trucked in from an inland source. The sand was tested by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The DNR has very stringent standards for what is considered ‘beach quality’ sand and this sand met their standards. The sun will gradually bleach the sand such that it will closely match the surrounding beach and dunes. The work that remains is to shape the sand, plant dune grasses on top to hold and build the dune system and place fencing between the dunes and what remains of the beach.
-In order to move forward with the first phase of the dune project, the existing dune crossovers at 16th, 17th and 18th needed to be taken down and replaced. The 17th street crossover was slated for replacement anyways and the one at 18th was damaged by Irma. Our Department of Public Works is rebuilding the crossovers. The 17th St. crossover has already been re-built. The 16th St. crossover is under construction and should be completed soon. A section of Mobi Mat (plastic mats that allow for handicap access onto the beach) will be placed on the beach side of 16th and 17th St. crossovers. We will be temporarily placing a longer section of MobI Mat at 18th St. until the beach is renourishment this upcoming winter. There is insufficient beach at the end of that street for a provide a new crossover a place to land. The materials for these new crossovers and the Mobi Mats are being funded entirely by the State grant mentioned earlier.
-New showers and changing areas are being installed adjacent to the parking lot near the 16th and 15th St. crossovers. Years ago, the City was forced to remove our beach showers due to a mandate from the State Environmental Protection Division (EPD) of the DNR that we cut back on the amount of water our community was taking from the Floridan Aquifer, Tybee’s only source of potable water. These new showers will be drawing water from shallow wells as opposed to the Floridan Aquifer. This technique was used for the showers we recently installed at the north beach and this system has proven to work very well. These new showers will be in place by early May barring any unforeseen issues. Thanks to Council member Monty Parks for his work on this effort. This project is being funded by the City’s general fund (specifically from parking revenue) and with Chatham County funds.
-A new restroom will be placed between 17th St. and 18th St. in the south end parking lot in the same location as the portable bathrooms that were there previously. This will also be a portable facility. Our long term goal is to construct restrooms in this location similar to the ones at the north beach and in Memorial Park. This temporary restroom is also being funded by the general fund from parking revenue.
-The roundabout area has been repainted and refurbished. This project was completed a few weeks ago. Thanks to Council member Wanda Doyle for her work to get this done. We are also excited to be partnering with the US Army Corps on a beach renourishment and dune-building project slated to take place sometime between October of 2019 and February of 2020. It is badly needed. Much of the beach, especially at the south end of the Island, has been washed away by all of the hurricanes, storms and high tides we have had the past few years. We know many residents use the south end of our beach and will be inconvenienced during high tide until the renourishment can be completed. There is not much beach left between the dunes and high tide. The federal government is providing $13,000,000 to pay for this renourishment and dune-building project. We anticipate using the remaining State grant funds to supplement this project so we can buy extra sand for the beach and dunes above and beyond what federal funds will pay for. The last full renourishment was completed in 2014. That project was supposed to last ten years but Matthew, Irma and several smaller storms and some very high tides have worn the beach away faster than anticipated. This new project represents the first time that the federal government has agreed to add a dune-building element to Tybee’s federal shore protection project. Dunes will be added to areas of the Island that are exposed to storm surge, especially the area from Center to the East Gate crossover (by the Sugar Shack). We have been working on this for years and are very pleased that there is now a clear recognition by the federal government of how beach renourishment/dune-building can reduce the risk of storm surge/flooding thereby lessening the need for Congress to continually provide funds above and beyond what property owners pay into the federal flood insurance program. Thanks to Congressman Buddy Carter for his continued support of this important project and for his ongoing advocacy on behalf of Tybee.
We continue to work to get an answer on the home-lifting grant we applied for on behalf of residents in low-lying homes on the back side of the Island. A copy of a letter Congressman Carter sent to FEMA urging them to provide a timely response to Tybee’s grant application is included below. Once we get an answer from FEMA, everyone will be notified immediately. If this grant is awarded to Tybee, it is a long term win for the federal flood insurance program and more importantly for homeowners who have been struggling with flooded property.
Photos of some of these projects are included below. Many thanks to our City Manager and his team as well as the Beach Task Force for all of the work they have undertaken on these projects. We greatly appreciate the Georgia DNR for their assistance with permitting. Also, thanks to everyone on our City Council for working together on these projects and moving our community forward.