Docks, Boat Lifts, and Seawall Blog

Post Irma Learning Lessons

Post Irma, we experienced a lot of destruction and came away with a lot of thoughts on how to deal with and recover from hurricanes. Here are the lessons we learned.


Seawall Failure

A few weeks before Irma we had 17+ inches of rain that saturated our ground. With the wind rotation Irma had and its path into Southwest Florida, the easterly winds blew all of our water out into the Gulf. As many of us saw in pictures, the tide was at an extreme low. Many canals became totally empty, you would have had to walk a quarter mile out into the Caloosahatchee River before you would touch water. The low tide was out past the Fishing pier at Fort Myers Beach.

Most of the seawalls in the Southeast/Southwest Cape Coral, Sanibel and Fort Myers Beach were built 40-50 years ago. When Irma blew all the water out of the canals, the seawalls lost all the back pressure the water normally puts on the seawall. Combine this with the saturated ground on the uplands side of the wall and add in a older concrete wall and the result is a seawall that fails. The walls failed in several ways.

Most seawalls broke in the middle and collapsed. Others had the bottom of the wall “kick out” due to lack of penetration into the ground when the panel was installed. No matter how the seawall failed, most fell into the canal allowing the upland side land to sluff off into the canal. Due to hurricane Irma an estimated 1,000+ seawalls have failed in Southwest Florida. There are several common questions home owners have:

1.) I’ve heard a wide range for pricing for seawall replacement, why is there such a big range?
There are many factors that go into how much a seawall replacement will cost. Some of the variable are; length of wall, depth of water, how hard the bottom of the canal is, if the old wall has to be removed, proximity to other structures such as pools or patios, how much erosion has occurred, access to the property, etc.

2.) Only a section of my wall collapsed, can I only replace what has fallen?
Unless there is an intact structure that breaks up the seawall, such as a cantilever or concrete seating area, the entire wall will most likely need to be replaced.

3.) The top of my wall has leaned out into the canal only a few inches, can it be pulled back?
No, if your wall has only slightly shifted there is no way to pull it back to where it was. If the wall has only move one or two inches, it will need to looked at to determine what course of action will be needed.

4.) The bottom of my wall “kicked out” can it be repaired?
No, If the bottom of the panel kicked out there is no way it can be repaired. Most walls that have kicked out have broken panels as well. Once the wall kicks out a new wall will need to be installed.

Canopy Removals

1.) When should I remove my boat canopy as a result of high winds?
Most of the canvas tops on standard boat canopies are rated to 70 mph winds.

2.) What could happen as a result of not doing this?
The canvas could act like a sail and literately pull the canvas frame down, damaging one's boat lift, boat, dock or other property.


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