State: Ponte Vedra Beach is 'critically eroded' | News

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State: Ponte Vedra Beach is 'critically eroded'

SOUTH PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- The nor'easters pounded the First Coast last week, causing severe erosion along Ponte Vedra Beach.

Chuck Herklotz, his dog and his wife live in a small home on South Ponte Vedra Beach. He said, "We retired there 21 years ago."

Their back yard took a beating with last week's storms, washing away about 30 feet of back yard in a short period of time. "I'd say in about 5-6 days," Herklotz noted.

About nine other lots near his experienced erosion as well, although some not as severe.

The erosion has crumpled beach staircases, exposed pipes and left gates dangling.

Handyman Mark Ayers just extended a set of beach stairs in the fall when another round of nor'easters washed sand from under them.

"These three steps, we literally dug the sand out around them to get the steps further into the sand," Ayers said. Those steps were completely covered by sand in October, but now they are completely exposed due to the erosion.

St. Johns County Engineer Andy Ames inspected the stretch of beach today, calling it a typical erosion event for South Ponte Vedra Beach.

"With the older houses, sometimes they were built very seaward. So what we're seeing in South Ponte Vedra frequently, especially when you see a slab on grade house, is they were built much more seaward than maybe houses we'd permit today," Ames said.

Ames said St. Johns County is in the process of declaring a local state of emergency, which will help speed up the process for homeowners who want to get state permits to build seawalls to protect their homes.

Homeowners like Herklotz will pay for the seawalls themselves, if they can just get the okay from the state to do it before it's too late for their homes.

"I just want to get it done, yeah," Herklotz nodded.

The state of Florida has deemed South Ponte Vedra Beach a critically eroded beach. There are two others in St. Johns County: Vilano Beach and Summer Haven Beach.


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