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Restoring the dunes in St. Johns County is a constant project. Hurricane Ian didn't help

One marine science expert says the beach is eroding away.

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. — Hurricane Ian did more than just cause flooding and power outages in St Johns County. It took a toll on the St. Johns County Dune Enhancement Project. 

Crews recently added more sand to Mickler's Landing, but Ian swept a lot of it away. 

Mickler's Landing is where Kailey Harlan grew up. It's where she would go to when she was in high school. To Harlan, Mickler's Landing was her home away from home. 

She and her family visited the beach after the storm. To Harlan, the beach looks different compared to what she's used to. 

"You can see some boardwalks crumbling and the dunes are kind of gone," Harlan said. 

Harlan's home-away-from-home needs to be restored again. Specifically, the dunes, which is the first line of defense against storms. Otherwise, the house that are located inland would be at risk of flooding. Harlan said she feels bad for people who live near the dunes.

"What are they going to do in the next few years?" she asked. 

For more than 40 years, St. Johns County has worked to keep the beach intact. With help from FEMA, the goal was to strengthen the coastlines. Crews added more sand to the dunes earlier this year, but mother nature always seems to have the last word. Dr. Quinton White, the executive director of Jacksonville University's marine science research institute, said the sand is moving south. 

"One of the problems we have with all East coast beaches is that they're eroding away," Dr. White explained. "This is a constant project. We are continually trying to re-nurse the beaches because the sand is continually washing away." 

However, it's the price to be paid for Harlan to come back to her favorite beach. To Harlan, seeing the beaches ruined is disheartening. Dr. White said the beaches are a "high value commodity and it generates at lot of tax dollars." 

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