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Strong winds wash away beach at Sanibel hotel

Matt Grant

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Strong winds wash away beach at Sanibel hotel

CREATED Nov. 30, 2012 - UPDATED: Nov. 30, 2012

SANIBEL -  Hurricane season is over but its impact is still being felt by one Sanibel hotel after half its beach was washed away.

Cold fronts and strong winds took its toll on the Castaways Beach and Bay Cottages battering their beaches and taking a chunk out of the shore - a pristine place for beach weddings.

"Tough to do a wedding with no beach," said General Manager Jeff Schuff.

Recent cold fronts and strong winds, caused by Sandy, took a bite out of the beach and left a six foot drop off, according to Schuff.  

"It was a gentle slope down to the water," said Schuff. "Now it's a 5-foot step."

Schuff says 150 feet of beach eroded away.

On top of that, the ground collapsed - the current beach used to be below ground. Exposede sprinkler pipes and broken wood fences pepper the ground. 

"It's a bit of a mess," said Schuff.

In August, Tropical Storm Isaac caused big waves to slam onto Sanibel. But Schuff says it was recent cold fronts and strong winds, caused by Sandy, that created the slimmer shoreline which disappears completely at high tide.

"There is no beach at high tide," said Schuff. "It's just water."

When asked if this could hurt business, he said it could.

Tourists like Ed Marshall say were shocked to see so much of the beach washed away.

"That's crazy, that's nuts man," said Marshall. "Really crazy. That's too bad when you think about it, how much damage that's done."

"The wind is really strong, it can do a lot," said a tourist from New Jersey. "And the water can tear your beaches up. I'm from New Jersey we have no beaches left."
Schuff says "a couple" guests have complained that it's hard to get to the beach because of the drop. But he says there's not much he can do about that.

"Mother Nature," said Schuff, "does what she wants to."

A beach renourisment project will fully restore the beach to the way it was next summer, according to Schuff.

He hopes the weather doesn't make things worse before then.

Matt Grant