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Tropical Storm Ida Causes Some Damage, Closures

Gulf Islands National Seashore

National Park News

Tropical Storm Ida passed over the park on Tuesday. All employees are reported to be okay, but some damage and closures have been reported:

  • Davis Bayou, Fort Barrancas, Naval Live Oaks and Okaloosa Units – All are in good shape (just minor debris cleanup) and reopened on Tuesday.
  • Mississippi District Islands – No assessment has yet been made due to sea conditions.
  • Perdido Key Unit (Florida District) – High waters covered the Johnson Beach Road, depositing sand, but no road damage is anticipated. A couple of boardwalk dune crossings were damaged, but no other damage has been found in the unit. The unit reopened Tuesday afternoon, but Johnson Beach Road remains closed pending sand removal. No estimate is available for its reopening.
  • Ft. Pickens Unit (Florida District) – The Fort Pickens Road was flooded in numerous locations, with up to three feet of sand deposited along several miles of its length. An estimated 500,000 to 750,000 cubic yards of sand will need to be cleared. The road is likely to be mostly intact over its entire length, largely protected by the sand. Damage has occurred to the three-foot-wide bike lane in several stretches where the road edge has collapsed, but only in one location does the damage extend into the travel lane. Significant beach erosion has occurred, bringing the water's edge very close to the road in one area. This section of the road may be subject to frequent overwashes with high tides until the beach face rebuilds. Other than some minor shingle damage and small leaks, all structures appear to be in good condition. There was no damage to the underground power supply and the power remains on. The sewer project contractors need to recover some piping that washed into the sound and need to work through some access issues, but plan to resume their project shortly. The unit will remain closed to vehicular traffic for an unknown amount of time, but probably several weeks at minimum. It’s estimated that the cost for road repairs and sand removal will be under $1 million.
  • Santa Rosa Unit (Florida District) – Route 399 was flooded in numerous locations and sand was deposited on several miles of roadway, but the overall volume is significantly less than on Fort Pickens Road. The road is likely to be mostly intact over its entire length. Damage has occurred to the three-foot-wide bike lane in several stretches where the road edge has collapsed, but the damage does not extend into the travel lane. Damage to the bike lanes from undermining is more significant than at Fort Pickens. Opal Beach facilities have not been fully assessed. Flooding of the entrance station is likely, though permanent damage is unlikely due to the design of the building. Significant damage is not expected at any Opal Beach facilities. The road (an evacuation route that links the communities of Pensacola Beach and Navarre Beach) remains closed. It is possible it may reopen temporarily by the weekend (no decision has yet been made to do so) but will likely be closed again when a contract is lined up to repair the road shoulders. Three private vehicles were found abandoned and rangers are working to confirm the welfare of the occupants. One vehicle is probably a total loss as it was almost entirely underwater. A recreational fishing boat was found washed on the gulf shore. Rangers are also trying to identify the owner and do a welfare check. A damage estimate is not yet available, but will probably also be under $1 million.
At the time of the report on Tuesday, damage assessments were continuing, park crews were clearing sand from Route 399, and staff were working with state and federal highway organizations to obtain emergency ERFO funding in order to quickly repair affected roads.  


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