Recent winter storm shuts down Flagler Beach access points

By Brittany Jones, Reporter
Last Updated: Monday, January 08, 2018, 7:00 PM EST

Last week's winter storm has shut down more than half of Flagler Beach's access points.

  • Recent winer storm shuts down Flager Beach's access points
  • Thirty-four of 52 walkovers now inaccessible
  • Current walkovers roughly $5,000 each to repair, says city  

The dune walkover that once sat across the street from Suzie Johnston's home was more than just a dune walkover to the beach for Johnstons.

"This is the dune walk that I spent my childhood walking down, and it's gone. It's a 15-foot drop to the beach, how am I going to get to the beach?" said Johnston.

The city of Flagler Beach said high tides from a bomb cyclone are responsible.

Now 34 of the 52 walkovers are inaccessible, many of which were just repaired after Hurricane Matthew.

Flagler Beach city manager said they were down to only 9 of the 52 walkovers that still needed work or replaced, and then the recent storm happened.

"Some of those will be a simple fix and some of them more of a major fix," said City Manager Larry Newsom.

Johnston said hurricanes Matthew and Irma didn't cause as much damage as the recent weather system.

"The ocean looked like a washing machine and the waves were huge. To have a nor easter come through and for it to be completely dismantled and gone and not a board left, I was shocked," said Johnston.

Newsom said after Irma hit, 6 of the walkovers were closed on the south end of the beach but after this storm, it's now 20. Over on the north end of the beach, only 2 were closed and now there's 14.

"Our goal is quick as possible to get as many of them back up. They won't be built to exact standards but to get them so people can use them and not walk down the dunes, that's our goal," Newsom said.

Newsom said he hopes people will still remain off the dunes where they desperately need to be replenished, despite not having much beach access.

The city said repairs to the current walkovers would be roughly $5,000 each, totaling $145,000 or more.

If any of walkovers are too damaged, replacements could cost $25,000 each or more.

Johnston said she's hoping that long term, there be a seawall or a permanent structure that can sustain the storms. But for now she's just looking forward to filling the hole where her favorite dune walkover is now gone.

"Right now I don't know how we're going to get down to the beach without causing more damage, so we'll have to wait and be patient," said Johnston.

Inspections of each of the walkovers are expected over the next two weeks, then the city says it'll have a better timeline on repairs.

In the meantime they say they need your help removing the debris from the beach.

A beach cleanup will be held this coming Saturday. Details are to be announced.

The city released this notice to residents in part about the walkovers:

"Please utilize the above Beach Access/Dune Crossovers only. Do not walk on or across the Sea Dunes to prevent further erosion of the Dune system. City Ordinance 6-9 prohibits the destruction, harm, molestation, cutting, harvesting, removal or eradication or cause of destruction of any plant life on the Dune areas within the City, east of Highway A1A.

Please do not attempt to utilize closed Beach Access/Dune Crossover locations. Closed locations have clearly visible yellow “Caution” tape and wooden boards blocking access. These locations have been deemed unstable and have hereby been closed for public safety."