Updated:BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. —
Years of hurricanes and storms have taken a toll on Brevard County's beaches. Now more than a year after Superstorm Sandy, county officials have started a renourishment project to fix the damage.
Officials said the main idea is to widen the shoreline. They're dredging near Port Canaveral, bringing the sand to other areas and pumping it on shore. Crews have been using heavy equipment to spread the sand around.
"I'm visiting with some friends from up north," tourist Barbara Conway said.
The beaches are what brought Conway to Brevard County from Virginia. On Tuesday she watched as work crews pumped sand from off shore onto the beach in Idialantic.
The renourishment effort is one of two such projects going on in the county after Superstorm Sandy washed sand away from the beaches in 2012.
"Brevard County has historically been in what we call a critically eroded beach system, so we're always at a deficit," Director of Brevard County Natural Resources Management Ernie Brown said.
There is a $29 million federal dredging and pumping project on the south reach near Indialantic and along beaches north of Pineda Causeway. A second smaller project is restoring sand dunes in the mid reach area.
County natural resources officials point out they've done similar things before. But they said keeping the beaches thriving is good from an ecological standpoint -- and an economic standpoint.
"Tourism in Brevard County for the beaches alone conservatively bring in more than $1 billion a year," Brown said.
Officials hope the projects will keep people like Conway coming back.
"I'm happy they're bringing more sand back to the beach. It's nice to see," Conway said.
The county expects both projects to be done by May and the sand will be in place as a buffer before any big storms hit next year.