The Real Deal Miami

Irma’s worst damage to Florida beaches may be in Collier County

Collier's coastal zone manager says early assessments show "extensive damage" to the county's beaches
September 17, 2017 01:30PM

Naples after Irma (Credit: Ryan Mills | Naples Daily News)

Hurricane Irma’s damage to Florida beaches may have been worse in Naples and elsewhere in coastal Collier County than in any part of the state.

According to Gary McAlpin, Collier County’s coastal zone manager, a preliminary inspection shows that storm surge from Hurricane Irma flattened and narrowed much of the county’s beachfront along the Gulf of Mexico.

McAlpin told the Naples Daily News that “we’re talking about height being washed away and width being washed away on the beaches.” He also told the Daily News that the beaches are “usable” despite “extensive damage.”

While damaged homes are the main post-hurricane concern, damage to Collier County’s beaches is a long-term concern for the Naples-area tourism industry.

Irma apparently did less damage to the rest of Florida’s 825 miles of sandy beaches.

Just north of Collier County, beaches in Lee County were flattened by Hurricane Irma, but generally, they are still in good condition.

Farther north in Charlotte County, erosion and other hurricane damage to beaches also appears minimal, according to Michael Poff, a beach consultant to the county.

In southeast Florida, beaches in southern Broward County narrowed from the force of Hurricane Irma, but the damage didn’t prevent the beaches from serving as a buffer and protecting upland infrastructure from flooding, according to the county beach manager Nicole Sharp.

In northeast Florida, Hurricane Irma hit Flagler County, where storm surge from Hurricane Matthew last year knocked down sand dunes and washed away a one-mile section of State Road A1A.

But Flagler County administrator Craig Coffey said Irma caused less water damage because the flooding this time came mainly from the Intracoastal Waterway.

Coffey told the Naples Daily News that “we didn’t get the severity of flooding from the ocean side this time.” [Naples Daily News]Mike Seemuth