GALVESTON — Tropical Storm Bill didn’t deliver the rain that was initially feared, but the storm put on a wild water show for weather watchers on the seawall.
Over the two-plus days that the storm blew into Texas, waves lapped against Galveston’s seawall, and crashed onto its beaches. Tides were pushed up to 3 feet higher than normal.
On the west end of the seawall, the storm activity led some to question what effect Bill would have on the newly widened beach between the wall’s end and the Dellanera RV Park
Would the waves wash away some of the 118,000 cubic yards of sand that the state, city and nearby condo owners spent $4.8 million to complete this year?
Of course, it did.
That was expected, and kind of the point, state and local officials said.
“The recently completed beach reconstruction just west of the seawall is doing its job, and helping to protect tens of millions worth of private property and public infrastructure from Tropical Storm Bill’s storm surge,” said Jim Suydam, a spokesman for the Texas General Land Office.
The area at the west end of the seawall is naturally eroding at a rate of about 8 feet a year. Storms like Bill are part of the natural erosion that was anticipated before the project began, said Kelly de Schaun, the executive director of the Galveston Park Board of Trustees.
Before the hurricane season began, the cities of Galveston and Jamaica Beach and the Park Board hired an engineering firm to conduct annual surveys on Galveston’s beaches. The surveys show where the sand on the island’s beaches is, and, when they’re conducted again, where it moved to.
“Did some of the material move? Yes.,” de Schaun said. “Until such time as we do the next survey, we won’t be able to quantify that.”
The new beach and dune system is built to withstand a certain mount of erosion, de Schaun said. After the erosion reaches a certain point, it will trigger a new request for funding and the start of a new reconstruction project. De Schaun said the Army Corps of Engineers anticipates that the Dellanera Beach will need 50,000 cubic yards of sand every five years.
“Building the beach didn’t stop the erosion,” de Schaun said. “It just gave it something to chew on.”