A new project is underway in Flagler Beach as volunteers aim to rebuild the dunes for protection after Hurricane Matthew damaged them about 11 months ago.

  • Hurricane Matthew changed landscape of Flagler Beach
  • New project designed to make the dunes green to prevent washouts
  • Company donated $2,000 towards the project

Eric Cooley begins the morning with giving out instructions first to his volunteers dressed in their "dunes team" vests.

Cooley and the rest of the Flagler Beach All Star volunteers are ready to plant for the green dunes project.

The new project serves for more protection from washouts on A1A and for homes and businesses after the dunes took a beating last October from Hurricane Matthew.

"Once these are established they're going to grow the dunes and the dune is our bumper basically for A1A but this is what's retaining the ocean from taking over the town," Cooley said, who is helping to spearhead the project.

He said it started after he was driving by a vacant lot behind the old parks and recreation building in Flagler Beach.

"I approached the city and said, 'Can we use this lot to set up some planting and we can get a couple thousand plants going, grow them and donate them to the city?'" said Cooley.


These plants are being grown and then transplanted into the dunes to help rebuild Flagler Beach. (Brittany Jones, staff)

Cooley said a company donated about $2,000 worth of a computerized irrigation system for them to get started.

"There's two reasons why we're targeting grass. First between sea oats and bitter panic, grass this is a perfect example why, these are sea oats here, but if you look at the base, you can actually see where they're actually sitting on. This mound wasn't here after the hurricane," said Cooley.

The hurricane changed the landscape of the dunes.

"Since the hurricane what these do is all this grass catches the sand and it starts to clump at the base," said Cooley.

Cooley said they are saving the city about $3 per plant by helping out.

"This can save the city tens of thousands a month just by using what's out there," said Cooley.

Volunteers said it is worth the hard work.

"I feel strongly that taking care of our dunes is a priority and since they need some help we need to come out here and help them grow back to what they can do to help protect our land," said Carla Cline, volunteer.

Cooley said they are already seeing growth and are hoping in four to five years the dunes will be tall and strong and they plan to make the nursery permanent.

"We want to plant the dune the way Mother Nature intended them to be planted grass in first some shrubbery couple years later we want to get it done right," he said.

The volunteers are working with a dune expert as they are planting. They are accepting donations of materials and people who would like to volunteer can reach out to their Facebook page at Flagler Beach Green Dunes project. They plan to plant thousands.