Florida starts pilot program in Volusia County to save damaged dunes

Tiger Dam installed Monday to serve as temporary seawall, prevent further dune erosion

DAYTONA BEACH SHORES, Fla. – Florida’s emergency management team is getting creative in finding ways to reinforce Volusia’s coastline after the recent storms. Dozens of homes and buildings caved in or were deemed too dangerous for residents after the storm surges caused by Hurricanes Ian and Nicole wiped away their dunes and seawalls.

On Monday, the state started installing a pilot system on the beach in Daytona Beach Shores using a system called a Tiger Dam.

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It’s the first time the state has ever used it on the beach, but the hope is it will basically serve as a temporary seawall for the properties that are hanging on by a thread.

“What we’re trying to do is stop that where it’s at and pretty much buy the homeowner some time to figure out what they’re going to do to mitigate that,” said Jim Bujeda, deputy director and Florida SERT chief for the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

The water-filled tubes will be stacked, creating a dam with the goal of guarding the dunes from the tides.

“The plan is that the weight of those Tiger Dams will be enough to ward off the wave action of the ocean coming in,” he said.

Bujeda said they just got the permit to start the pilot project. He said they’re starting with several hundred yards near Frank Rendon park in Daytona Beach Shores.

“The proof of concept will be in the fact that anymore erosion will be prevented from the homes and dunes that have been eroded away,” he said.

Bujeda said the system was used similarly in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. He said now, seeing the coastline here, Florida needed to get innovative, and quickly, before more high tides.

According to Volusia County leaders, as of Monday, 16 buildings are still too unsafe for people to reenter.

“You’ve got a lot of tourism that comes out here that they’re going to end up losing a lot of money. You have a lot of homes that have been destroyed as you saw further down the coastline and we’re trying to stop that. We’re trying to get this community back on its feet,” Bujeda said.

The state said once it determines if the dam works on that stretch of beach, it will bring it to more areas along Volusia’s coast. It has not set a timeline yet for how long it will be here but said if it works, officials will keep it here long enough for homeowners to rebuild seawalls.

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Molly joined News 6 at the start of 2021, returning home to Central Florida.