A tour of Ocean City's beaches after Hurricane Sandy and a second coastal storm that arrived a week later shows a vastly different landscape than the one that existed just a few weeks earlier.
Protective sand dunes have been wiped out across the length of the island — sacrificed in defense of the barrier island against a record storm surge.
But on a mild Thursday in November after the storms passed, much beach and some dune systems remain.
The only area impassable to somebody walking the length of Ocean City's beaches is at Waverly Beach on the north end, where Sandy flattened dunes and exposed buried geotubes. But the sand-filled synthetic tubes appear to have served their purpose — and continue to do so — in holding back the ocean.
The wide and healthy dune system roughly between 18th and 40th streets was the star of the storm. A tour of that area shows clear evidence that the ocean never reached the streets — though the dunes are now much narrower in many areas.
At the south end, where beaches already were severely eroded, dunes are gone —washed into the streets. But some beach remains.
For a quick tour of Ocean City beaches from north to south, view the photo gallery above.
City crews and outside contractors have been working to create temporary sand berms to hold back the ocean, and a beach replenishment for the north-end and downtown beaches is approved for this winter.
City Council in August unanimously approved borrowing $617,500 to help fund its portion of an anticipated project that would pump sand to widen Ocean City's beaches before next summer.
Ocean City was first approved for an ongoing federal Army Corps of Engineers beach replenishment program in the 1990s. The 50-year agreement calls for maintenance dredging every three years (contingent on the approval of federal funding).
The new project would restore Ocean City beaches from the northernmost jetty near Seaspray Road to an area between 14th and 17th streets. The project would restore those beaches to their original profile — including those at Waverly Beach and Fifth Street Beach that have seen severe erosion.
The beach replenishment program is seen as vital to the economy of Ocean City and other shore towns that rely on summer visitors to thrive.
Ocean City is responsible to fund 8.75 percent of the anticipated $10 million project, with the remainder funded by the Army Corps and state Department of Environmental Protection. Some local funding had already been approved as part of Ocean City's capital improvement plan.
Business Administrator Mike Dattilo said Thursday that the Army Corps hopes to have a contract approved by Sept. 14. The work would be done in conjunction with a project in nearby Brigantine.
The Brigantine portion of the project would be completed first, making the Ocean City work likely to happen in late winter or early spring in 2013.