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 reconstructed beaches.
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.