EASTERN SUSSEX — The nor’easter that began this weekend has already left beaches a mess for the state and local municipalities to clean up in the weeks ahead of Memorial Day weekend, and the tide still hasn’t retreated.
The wind gusted up to or even past 50 miles per hour in some places over the weekend, sweeping in water that on Tuesday remained many feet higher at low tide compared to last week. The glut of water displaced enough sand to make sheer drops out of dune crossings and has forced the closures of surf crossings in multiple locations, including at Delaware Seashore and Fenwick Island state parks.
“We’re noticing significant erosion on both the Atlantic Ocean and Delaware Bay coastlines,” said Jesse Hayden, head of the shoreline and waterway division at the Delaware Department Natural Resources and Environmental Control. He cautioned that his team’s assessments of shorelines are ongoing; nor’easter winds are expected to continue until Thursday.
The agency will work alongside local partners to restore full access to beaches as soon as possible, Mr. Hayden said.
Officials at beachside municipalities reported mixed news as they surveyed their shorelines.
Pat Schuchman, town manager of Fenwick Island, said Tuesday the town had “fared pretty well” all things considered; its beach suffered considerable erosion, but its dune systems were intact.
The storm damaged the fences lining Rehoboth Beach’s dunes and sheared off parts of crossings, creating drops up to five feet. Some of the city’s beach and boardwalk maintenance people called it “the worst they’ve seen, ” said Kevin Williams, the director of public works for Rehoboth Beach — at least outside of a hurricane.
In Lewes, the storm narrowed beaches and deposited sand in parking lots but did not cause the canal that runs through town to flood, Mayor Theodore W. Becker said. He is holding out hope the sand will be redeposited — the city has no planned beach nourishments until the fall.
There’s a lot of cleanup and repair work ahead to be done ahead of the coming crowds, Mr. Hayden said.
“We appreciate people’s patience while we go through that. We’re going to do the best we can to repair damages so folks can have a happy and safe Memorial Day weekend on the beach. But it’s going to be a couple of weeks of work to get there,” he said.