High winds, heavy rain and four to six foot swells battered Bethany Beach early Tuesday morning.
Mayor Jack Gordon says the town "dodged a bullet" as the waves did not hit the dunes, but they did cause beach erosion. Gordon says Tuesday's storm is a reminder that the town needs beach replenishment soon, in case a future storm is not so forgiving. The town is slated to get that replenishment this year--like Dewey and Rehoboth did recently--but Gordon says its funding remains up in the air.
"We are still crossing our fingers and hoping that we can get the funding so that they can take care of the replenishment that we are supposed to be getting this year." The boardwalk is not insured. We've got 12 million dollars of infrastructure here that's in danger basically because the dune is the only protection for that. We want to make sure we get enough dune there, as much as we can, to protect the town."
Tony Pratt, DNREC's Administrator of Shoreline and Waterway Management says he expects the next few weeks will help naturally restore some of the sand eaten away Tuesday morning.
"The beach is very dynamic here. We have this kind of loss in the winter typically," he says. "Nature is very forgiving. That sand is pulled into the sandbar area and then is pulled back by wave action over the next several weeks and the beach rebuilds. It's a give and take that goes on every winter."
Ahead of Tuesday's storm, Pratt identified Bethany Beach and South Bethany as areas of major concern, but like Gordon, he said it could have been much worse.
"We are lucky in two facts in this storm," he says. "One: that it's pretty much the only storm we've had this winter, and two: it's only lasting one tide. Many of our nor'easters will blow over two, three, four tides."
Pratt says Tuesday's storm would usually be classified as moderate, but it felt more severe as it was the first big storm of the season. He says normally Delaware's had four to five nor'easters by this point in the winter.
Gordon says regardless of any new erosion, they'll be ready for the upcoming tourist season.