Flagler and St. Johns Counties are poised to get millions of dollars for dune restoration efforts, if Gov. Rick Scott approves the Florida budget.
The budget includes $13.3 million to be shared between the two counties.
“This is not fancy tourism [projects for the] beaches, this is really about trying to protect the public,” said Flagler County Administrator Craig Coffey.
Coffey said they had asked for the money throughout the legislative session. He added Flagler County’s portion of the funds would focus on restoration efforts in the northern half of the county.
“We have whole neighborhoods that if we don’t get these dunes back in place, they’re gonna flood,” Coffey said.
Dunes on Flagler County beaches were destroyed during Hurricane Matthew.
Judy Johnson, who lives in Palm Coast, told First Coast News she goes to the beach multiple times each week. Every time she sees the dunes, she thinks of Matthew.
“It kind of makes you wonder if we do get another one this season what it’s gonna be like," she said.
Despite cloudless skies Wednesday, Coffey, too, is looking ahead to hurricane season.
“Hurricane season’s in 15 days,” Coffey said. “And without it we’re gonna be subject to more flooding, more damage, just from a tropical storm, much less a hurricane.”
State Representative Paul Renner, who represents Flagler and a portion of St. Johns County, released a statement to First Coast News:
"Together with Senator Travis Hutson and Representative Cyndi Stevenson, we were able to procure over $13 million in beach and dune restoration funding, which prioritizes both Flagler and St. Johns Counties. Thank you to House leadership for recognizing the importance of this funding for our area and the need for continued efforts in restoring our protective dune systems."
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection, which will decide how the money is allocated to the counties, released this statement.
"Specific funding allocations have not yet been made for the budget appropriation for emergency beach restoration projects in response to the damage caused by Hurricane Matthew in St. Johns, Flagler, Volusia and Brevard counties.
The Department is still waiting for additional information from the counties on their specific needs. This information will be used to determine specific allocations."