VIRGINIA BEACH---The Army Corps of Engineers has started dredging sand offshore as part of the first beach-replenishment project at the Oceanfront in a decade.

After nor'easters and hurricanes, the city says they've lost a considerable amount of sand.

Crews have worked around the clock dredging sand from offshore, bringing load after load back to 15th Street to 70th Street, and piling it back on.

'If another storm were to come and hit, you would be looking at a lot more loss of sand,' said project manager Jennifer Armstrong. 'The sand acts as a buffer, so all that energy would be placed on the seawall.'

There was a similar project, Operation Big Beach, in 2002.

Since the last replenishment, the city has saved more than $400 million in storm water damage, and Armstrong says it comes with a small investment locally.

'In the short time that it's been in place, it has already paid for itself in initial costs and all anticipated costs for replenishment over the lifecycle of the project,' said Armstrong.

More than a million cubic yards of sand will be added to the beach by May 15th.

In order to start the current replenishment the city needed federal funding, which wasn't available until recently.

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