Storm cleanup, beach recovery could go on for months

Virginia Beach public works crews won’t remove the last traces of Hurricane Joaquin and a coinciding storm for months. It could be even longer until sand levels at some beach areas return to normal, according to officials.

Beach cleanup at the Oceanfront following Hurricane Joaquin. (Courtesy of the City of Virginia Beach)
Beach cleanup at the Oceanfront following Hurricane Joaquin. (Courtesy of the City of Virginia Beach)

The storms caused what was categorized as major flooding near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel and washed “a large amount of debris including driftwood, seaweed, a pair of mooring buoys and even a few coconuts” onto shore, according to an update from the city manager. At the same time, it stripped some sand from beaches and deposited it in offshore storm bar formations, the report said.

Though the Beach avoided Joaquin, heavy rain still caused minor damage, said Drew Lankford, a public works spokesman.

“We dodged a bullet with the hurricane,” he said. “But it’s like there was a second bullet still in the chamber.”

No significant property or structural damage was reported along the shore in the aftermath of the storms. And most debris has been cleared, though it will take “a fair amount of effort” to totally restore beaches, the city manager’s update said.

Public works crews will have the resort areas clean within two weeks but will be working on the city’s more than 200 beach access points for months, the report said.

Some access areas will get truckloads of sand dumped on them for safety reasons, while some beach areas will have to wait for calm waves to push sand back onto them, according to officials.

Lankford said the Beach was lucky to have escaped without major damage from Joaquin or the lingering rain that joined it.

“These type of storms really test you,” he said. “Hurricanes hit you hard for a few days, but these, it’s like they come to your house for a party and won’t go home at night.”

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