>> Florida's sandy beaches, they're among the most visited in the world, and with a $67 billion a year tourism sector, they're crucial to this state's economy. But a string of massive storms last year washed away more sand from Florida's coastline than any other time in recent history, leaving homes and businesses teetering on the shores edge.
Now the state is struggling to get enough new sand to fix its beaches in time for Spring Break. Reuters US public finance correspondent, Laila Kearney.>> I'm on the east coast of Florida where up and down the shoreline beaches are being rebuilt after a bad storm year. The practice of restocking beaches with sand is a way to guard against storms, sea level rise and to make sure beaches are ready for tourists.
But with dwindling sand supplies, rising cost and more competition for the public money that pays for these projects, this practice is also becoming more challenging.>> More money is spent on replenishing Florida's shores than in any other state with more than $100 million a year poured into sand, roughly double what the state spends on fighting the opioid epidemic.
The sand is either piped in from underwater sites, or brought by dump trucks from mines sometimes more than 100 miles away. The American Shore and Beach Preservation Association is calling for the inclusion of $5 billion over a decade in any upcoming infrastructure bill to help the growing number of states seeking shore replenishment projects, in other words, money for more sand.
But in Florida Flagler County officials tell loaders what they really need is a break, saying they never even had a chance to recover from the last storm before Hurricane Irma hit.