FEMA says no help for Brevard with Sandy-damaged beaches

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BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. —

Brevard County is trying to figure out how to deal with a very costly problem.

Hurricane Sandy did millions of dollars in damage to the beaches, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency is refusing to help. WFTV reporter Melonie Holt learned the county is running out of options.

Months after Sandy blew by Brevard's 72 miles of coastline, the damage is still evident.

"It's perilous right now. We're one storm away from losing the house," said resident Dan Fabyan.

Fabyan's home sits in the South Melbourne Beach area. It's one of two areas the county said it hoped to reach with FEMA funds. But the county said the agency recently rejected an appeal for assistance.

"It's sporadic. Some areas lost a foot or two. We lost close to 30 feet here," said Fabyan.

Hurricane Sandy did an estimated $25 million in damage to the coastline.

Brevard County commissioner Trudie Infantini said the county must balance public and private interests. She said many taxpayers don't want to see any investment in sand dunes washed out to sea.

"For those who resent tax dollars being spent on the beach, look at the flood-control ditches there to keep your house from reverting to the Everglades. There's no difference," said Fabyan.

There are also tourism and ecological interests.

Some of the ideas being floated now include grant requests, use of tourism development dollars or even tapping general funds to replace 100,000 cubic yards of sand.

David Hochberg, of the Sea Turtle Preservation Society, said some areas of the beach have shown improvement on their own, while other areas have not. For the turtles, that can mean life or death.

"If there's no beach to nest in, they have to turn around and have to turn back around and try to find another spot," said Hochberg.

The Brevard County Commission will be presented with options during its meeting Tuesday.