Hurricane Matthew damage to U.S. sand dunes less than forecast

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 31, 2016 2:14 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Hurricane Matthew washed away at least 162 miles (261 km) of U.S. Atlantic sand dunes this month, less than predicted for the powerful storm, a government agency said on Monday.

During its brush with the U.S. coast, Matthew wiped out a 17-foot (5.2-m) dune and a coastal highway at Flagler Beach, Florida, and cut an inlet into the Matanzas River near St. Augustine, Florida, the U.S. Geological Survey said in a preliminary report on the storm's damage.

Matthew dumped more than a foot (30 cm) of water on North Carolina and killed more than 30 people in the United States. Before hitting the southeast U.S. coast, the storm killed around 1,000 people in Haiti.

Waves or storm surge overwhelmed an estimated 53 miles (86 km) of dunes and other coastal structures in Florida, the hardest-hit state, the U.S. Geological Survey report said.

Another 32 miles (52 km) of shoreline in Georgia and 77 miles (124 km) in South Carolina were overtopped. The coastal impact is still being assessed in North Carolina, the report said.

The impact on the Southeastern coast was smaller than expected. About 15 percent of Florida's Atlantic sand dunes were overtopped, less than the 24 percent the U.S. Geological Survey had forecast for worst-case waves and storm surge.

Forecasts for other states were not provided.

Before-and-after aerial photos from the agency showed the new Matanzas River inlet, formed when the storm swept over a 12-foot (3.7-m) dune, and damage to roads and structures.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Bernard Orr)