By MADDY VITALE
Coastal storms this fall have left erosion in their wake at beaches in Ocean City and throughout the shore communities.
The coastal storms in the offseason leave mini cliff-like cuts in the dunes each year. And then, as is always the case, the beaches are replenished by the city and sometimes with a little help from Mother Nature with shifting winds, Ocean City officials explained.
Vertical scarping, as is the term for the chunks out of the dunes, was dramatic in some areas of the downtown beaches Sunday, but particularly at Fifth Street. Sixth, Seventh and Eighth streets also saw erosion during the recent strong storms.
While it wasn’t the storm last weekend that caused all of the recent erosion, coastal storms over the offseason months play a role each year in chipping away at the shoreline, officials said.
Chunks of sand were cut out like pieces of a giant jigsaw puzzle across Fifth Street beach. To a lesser degree was the effect at the Sixth and Seventh Street beaches and to a much lesser degree at Eighth Street.
“We monitor the beaches every year, especially during the fall and spring, and we certainly try to keep the beaches intact,” Michael Allegretto, aide to Mayor Jay Gillian, said in an interview Monday night. “The downtown seems to be our biggest area to lose sand because of the currents and how the island sticks out. The downtown beaches are always an area of concern.”
A strong dune system has been in place since the city began the process of building them in the 1990s, he noted.
The joint replenishment project every three years with the city, state and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers enables the beaches to be replenished to give beachgoers a wide, sandy shoreline come spring and summer.
“Certainly, we have a dune system to keep the sand in place,” Allegretto said. “There is a large dune system to protect the shoreline.”
However, even with a strong support system of dunes to protect property and the beaches, storms continue the cycle of taking away sand that will inevitably be replenished.
“If we have to move sand around, we certainly will when needed,” Allegretto added. “The federal project helps keep the homes protected and keeps the beaches at a nice size.”
In 2020, the Army Corps of Engineers rebuilt some of the beaches. During the summer of 2020 as well as 2021, visitors to the island lounged on wide, expansive beaches.