Making landfall as a Category 2 storm, Hurricane Frances was hardly
the strongest hurricane on record. Yet surprisingly, it ranks as
one of the costliest hurricanes in U.S. history, owing to its
immense size and sluggish advance. Frances churned offshore,
pounding the coast with 105-mph winds for an entire the day before
it crept ashore on September 5, 2004. The eye, stalled over Fort
Pierce, stretched 80 miles in diameter. The storm's rain bands
incessantly lashed Florida's Space Coast near Cape Canaveral. For
those in nearby Cocoa Beach, the worst effect of this sustained
pummel was not so much a mighty wind load or a flooding surge (what
we usually associate with hurricanes) but the incessant rain of
sand driven by winds that displaced the island's newly
An estimated 92 cubic yards of sand filled the resort's pool.
To avoid damaging the pool tile — an inevitable consequence
of excavating with shovels — the sand was removed with a
pump. A second pump was needed to bring in ocean water and create a
slurry that would carry away the sand. This solution was discovered
only after the flow from a garden hose (inset above) proved
insufficient to keep up with the first pump.
Beach Island Resort lies shrouded in a veil of sand following
Hurricane Frances in 2004 (top). Recovery came from shovels and
more than $10,000 in labor. A skid steer could have been used to
spread the sand back over the beach, but to save the landscaping,
the work had to be done by hand (bottom).
Resort co-owner Francis Henderson rinses down salvaged landscaping
(left). In this photo, the greenscape is a mere shadow of its
pre-Frances condition, says Fran, who prefers to go by her
nickname, especially now.
Sand completely clogged the outside units of the resort's air
conditioners (left). Following a thorough cleaning of the coils,
the air conditioners continued to run, though noticeably less
efficiently. Eventually, they had to be replaced.