A preliminary survey after the hurricane passed found "basically no damage" to 8 miles of dunes and sloping beach.

Beach restoration that started last year left Jacksonville’s Beaches ready to weather Hurricane Dorian without much shoreline damage, said experts who spent Thursday and Friday checking shorelines for problems.

“Everything looked very good. We saw minimal or basically no damage to the restored dunes,” said Kevin Bodge, a coastal engineering consultant who Jacksonville contracts to oversee work maintaining the dunes.

The dunes stand behind a slowly sloping beach where big waves crashed onto the shore during Dorian, but Bodge said waves that scooped sand from the beach didn’t really harm it.

“Most of that sand settled out just offshore in very shallow water,” he said, and added to sandbars that break up the surf before it reaches the shoreline.

That’s pretty much what engineers were hoping for when the beach was built up with sand pumped from offshore and dunes were reinforced and covered with sea oats to anchor them in place.

“They did exactly what they were supposed to do,” Jason Harrah, a project manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said in summarizing early assessments of the dunes and beachfront.

Bodge had bicycled Thursday along the eight-mile stretch of waterfront between Hanna Park north of Atlantic Beach and the southern end of Jacksonville Beach.

He returned Friday with Corps employees who checked for places where the beach — engineers call it a berm — had washed out under the waves’ beating.

With GPS equipment to mark their location, they wanted to measure whether the beach had dipped significantly below the 8-foot height that sand sloped up to when it was last restored in February. (The dunes’ heights are about 14 or 15 feet, Harrah said.)

Those measurements will be bundled into a report that’s not complete yet, but Harrah said preliminary information he had from other people’s inspections didn’t point to any important damage at all.

Having beaches like that matters for more than just sunbathing, Harrah said.

He said a healthy beach acts like a wall that protects the neighborhoods farther inland from being swamped by storm surge during hurricanes.

Before federal and local agencies began building up Jacksonville’s Beaches about 50 years ago, Harrah said, people lined patches of oceanfront with old cars and even household items like washing machines to try to stop waves from coming onshore.

Lately, a real focus has been keeping the beach dunes in place by anchoring them with sea oats whose roots help keep the sand from blowing away.

The city paid to plant about 340,000 sea oats last summer, Bodge said, and before Dorian came through had already scheduled planting of another 30,000 in the coming weeks.

Steve Patterson: (904) 359-4263