BETHANY BEACH, Del. - Despite positive expectations of replenishment on the way for the Bethany Beach area, WBOC learned on Wednesday that this funding would not be allocated in this year's working plan from the Army Corp of Engineers.
The decision was a surprise to many town leaders and some Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control officials who said they expected that the communities of Bethany Beach, South Bethany, and Fenwick Island would receive replenishment.
DNREC spokesman Tony Pratt said that it could now be a year-and-a-half before any nourishment comes to the community in need.
"We are in a very vulnerable situation there," he said. "I expect as a practitioner that we're going to see the complete loss of dune down there. And they're going to start all over from scratch in at least Bethany Beach. And I don't know how much of South Bethany will be left. It's a bad situation."
Pratt said he was "perplexed" by the decision.
WBOC reached out to the local branch of the Army Corps of Engineers' Philadelphia District, which said that the decision was made by the national headquarters in Washington. At this point, officials from the national headquarters have not returned calls from WBOC.
Bethany Beach Mayor Jack Gordon said the decision is "worrisome," because the community is vulnerable.
"It's extremely disappointing," he said. "And we're just hoping that the weather is not bad as far as having nor'easters. For now, there is nothing the town can do but continue to talk to appropriate people."
The Good News:
On Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Jack Markell joined state lawmakers and environmental leaders in Dewey Beach, in order to discuss possible emergency funding in the aftermath of January's big storm. Markell said that he had filed for "federal disaster relief" to the tune of $2.5 million. This emergency funding would be completely separate from replenishment funds.
Pratt said that emergency disaster funding could not be used for replenishment, because another federal entity, the Army Corps of Engineers, already provides funding for this service. The emergency funding would go towards things like repairing the boardwalks of Delmarva, entryways, and fencing along the coast.
"If you think about the importance of our tourism economy," Markell said, "This is a multi-billion dollar industry for Delaware. And it's important that people keep coming back, spending their money here."