OCEAN CITY — With heavy seas and a pending winter storm pounding the coast again on Monday morning, Ocean City officials have issued the initial estimates on the damage to the beach and dunes during Winter Storm Jonas late last month, including roughly $21 million needed in repairs.
In late January, Jonas, now deemed a 50-year storm, pounded the resort beaches for three straight days during what was essentially a classic Nor’easter during a full moon. The storm exacted a heavy toll on the beaches and dunes, the extent of which is just now being known. The federal Army Corps of Engineers late last week released the results of its recently completed initial estimates of the damages and a plan for emergency restoration.
According to the Army Corps’ figures, the volume of sand lost during Jonas is estimated at 880,000 cubic yards. The estimated cost to repair the damage caused by the January storm came in at around $21 million. The Town of Ocean City is currently moving forward with emergency dune repairs through a partnership with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
The Army Corps of Engineers will be requesting funding for the full beach restoration. Just last week, the Mayor and Council signed off on a letter to Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) seeking continued funding for the beach replenishment project through the Water Resources Development Act.
The good news is, despite taking heavy losses, the dune system held up and did its job during Jonas. According to the Army Corps’ estimates, the property damages prevented by the dunes during Jonas totaled around $190 million.
The Army Corps of Engineers replenishes the beaches in Ocean City every four years, along with occasional emergency repairs when necessary, such as the repairs now needed in the wake of Jonas. The last regularly scheduled beach replenishment project in Ocean City was conducted in 2014.
Beach replenishment is conducted through a federal, state and local partnership including the Army Corps, the state of Maryland, Worcester County and Ocean City, with the federal government paying the lion’s share of the 50-year agreement. For example, the total current allocation is nearly $268 million, of which the federal government pays $146 million. Roughly $47 million had been allocated through 2013, leaving a balance of $98 million. The life of the project extends to 2044.