After being slammed by Hurricane Irma Monday, the public dock at Sunbury in Liberty County will be rebuilt.
"The boating service dock at Sunbury will be repaired or replaced if necessary to restore it to a safe and functional condition," Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Coastal Resources Division public affairs coordinator Nancy Butler said Friday.
Monday, as Irma raked over Georgia, the winds themselves and the storm surge they pushed ashore inundated parts of the east end of Liberty County. As the waters rose the DNR dock at Sunbury was shredded. Its debris washed inland.
Butler said the department does not yet have a projection of when the work will be done, nor does it know what kind of work will be needed.
"We are in the process of assessing damage to public boating and fishing access sites throughout coastal Georgia," she said. "A combination of aerial surveys from a DNR helicopter and on-the-ground inspections are being used. Once we have assessed the damage, we will prioritize repairs and begin the process of contracting for repair work that cannot be performed by DNR staff."
Butler said it will be done as soon as possible, adding Irma’s effects could also have short-term impact on wildlife in the areas.
She said the surge and freshwater runoff associated from the storm washed organic and inorganic materials into the estuaries.
"These materials can cause localized increases in chemical and biological oxygen demand, but fortunately our twice-a-day tides of six to nine feet minimize will ameliorate these impacts," she said.
"The higher-than-usual freshwater input will have temporary impacts in our estuaries and nearshore Atlantic Ocean by displacing mobile marine species such as shrimp and blue crabs from their typical habitats," she said.
However Butler said that as conditions return to normal these species and others normally return to their typical habitats.
Butler said the DNR prohibited commercial and recreational shellfish harvest prior to Hurricane Irma.
"This prohibition will likely remain in effect for at least three weeks as that is typically the amount of time necessary for clams and oysters to become safe for human consumption after exposure to elevated levels of bacteria and pollutants transported in storm surge and freshwater runoff," Butler said. "DNR staff will be working beginning this weekend and over the next couple of weeks to test the water at all of Georgia’s shellfish growing areas for bacteria levels."