Beta causes flooding, beach erosion on SPI

High tides pound the sand dunes of South Padre Island after Hurricane Beta churned the Gulf of Mexico’s waters. Photo by Tony Bolstad.

By Gaige Davila 

After some heavy rainfall and churning tides from Hurricane Beta, South Padre Island became inundated with flood water and severe beach erosion.  

A Coastal Flood Advisory issued by the National Weather Service lasted until Sept. 24, as high tides swallowed the road leading to county beach accesses and pooled on the sides of Padre Boulevard. 

In a Facebook post, Barry Goldsmith, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Brownsville/Rio Grande Valley (NWS), said high tides from the beach and bay are not allowing standing water on South Padre Island to drain. From Sept. 19 to Sept. 21, waves carved the entirety of the beach, according to the NWS, with the tide reaching the dunes. 

Measured from Port Isabel, the peak tide reached 2.59 feet, the highest since Hurricane Ike in 2008, at 2.77 feet, according to Goldsmith, shrinking down to 1.97 feet by Sept. 21.

South Padre Island Shoreline Director Kristina Boburka said the city is monitoring the recent beach erosion and are considering when to renourish the beach with the Texas General Land Office and the United States Army Corps of Engineers.

Boburka said South Padre Island partners with the two agencies on beach renourishment efforts during regular maintenance dredging of the Brazos Santiago Pass entrance channel. 

“City staff has reached out to both entities to get an idea of when we should see an onshore placement of material soon to combat erosion,” Boburka said. 

With standing water all over the Island, as the city saw after Hurricane Hanna, swarms of mosquitoes once again plagued the coastal community. The city is addressing that, too. 

We are scheduled to conduct another round of pesticide spraying to reduce the mosquito count as soon as weather permits,” said Victor Baldovinos, environmental health director for South Padre Island.

Larvicide pellets have been placed in standing water throughout the Island, Baldovinos said. 

South Padre Island Mayor Patrick McNulty announced the city signed a Coastal Erosion Planning and Response Act (CEPRA) with the Texas General Land Office, who will provide $4.6 million dollars towards beach renourishment.

“We are working on a presentation, regarding the recent erosion, for our Congressman, Senators and Governor to hopefully put pressure on the Army Corp to help us place sand on the beach,” McNulty said in a Facebook post. “This presentation will be sent out this week.” 

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