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Hurricane Irma causes major erosion in Palm Beach County

(WPEC)

Surfer William Taylor knows the waters, waves and Jupiter Beach.

“There is a major decrease in the amount of sand on the beach just from this one storm,” he said.

Palm Beach County estimates Hurricane Irma removed enough sand from the area's 46-mile coastline to fill 380 Olympic sized swimming pools, with 24 of those pools from the beach near and around Carlin Park on the county’s north end.

“Those rocks were covered by the beach when they did the nourishment project, that’s all gone now,” Taylor said.

The county estimates Irma swallowed up $44 million in sand from local beaches.

“They serve the first line of defense for any coastal structures, development and property,” said Julie Mitchell, supervisor of the Palm Beach County Department of Environmental Resources Management Program.

As a result of the erosion, the county has received approval to apply for public assistance through FEMA to help pay for restoration work.

“We’re hoping the majority of the costs come through disaster emergency funds,” Mitchell said.

If approved, the money would help fund nourishment projects that the county claims brings dollars right back into our local economy.

“Every dollar spent on the beach brings in $7 in tourism," Mitchell said. "It really is a good return on investment."

Mitchell said getting the federal aid is a long process, but hopes to have a couple nourishment projects underway this winter.

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