Erosion Continues on Folly Beach

by on October 19th, 2014
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Hurricane Irene skimmed by Charleston, South Carolina, causing little damage to the peninsula. Local beaches didn’t fare as well, however. Large storm swells completely eliminated parts of the Folly Beach shoreline. High waves destroyed sea turtle nests that were nearly ready to hatch. The sand dunes are so battered that they cannot keep sea water from flowing into parking lots at high tide. The erosion on Folly Beach is devastating and will take years to recover from.

The ends of the island took the brunt of the storm’s force. On the west end of the island, Folly Beach County Park took the worse beating from Hurricane Irene. The park is still without water and power. High storm surges pushed water under the park building and flooded the parking lot. In fact, some of the park’s far parking lot was completely washed away. The concession stand (boardwalk) collapsed. For now, Folly Beach County Park is closed. Depending on the strength of Hurricane Katrina and others to come, the park may remain closed until Folly Beach can be renourished.

On the east end of the island-toward the Morris Island Lighthouse-the last public access and parking lot are blocked off. Additionally, three houses that surround the far-end parking area are on ‘limited access,’ which means homeowners can come in to make repairs but are not allowed to rent the houses to vacationers.

Hurricane Irene scattered the seawall that protected the beach rental houses along Summer Place Drive. Storm water washed the sand from around pilings that hold up the houses. There are no reinforcements.

Folly Beach looks like a different place since Hurricane Irene passed by.

And now, Tropical Storm Katia is gaining power in the Atlantic Ocean. According to the Weather Channel, Katia’s maximum sustained winds are close to 65 mph (100 kph) with further strengthening anticipated. Forecasters and computer models predict the storm will turn north and miss South Carolina. At this time, however, it’s too far away to guess what impact Tropical Storm Katia could have on the Southeast coast.

We walk our dog on Folly Beach every night. It’s heartbreaking to see the devastation Hurricane Irene caused. In recent evenings, we have planned our walks around the tide table because it’s impossible to walk the entire beach when the tide is coming in. Even though parts of our beach are gone, we know it could be so much worse.

It’s alarming to consider what would happen if South Carolina beaches took a direct hit.

Sources:

Personal observations

Weather Channel

Charleston Post and Courier-

Folly Beach Park may not recover soon

Local beaches take a beating

Tropical Storm Katia stirs up worries


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