A popular state park along the coast has reopened following damage from Hurricane Matthew last month, but it could take much more time for a second park to follow suit.
The South Carolina State Park Service reopened some sections of Edisto Beach State Park last week, although its oceanfront campground and some trails remains closed for the foreseeable future. State Park Director Phil Gaines said some of the campground is still under sand and its restroom utility pipes were damaged by the layer of salt water that settled over it during a storm surge. The campground is scheduled to reopen in September 2017.
“We’ll get in there and get that reworked and hopefully have that open sometime next year,” he told South Carolina Radio Network. “But we’re just going to have to redo those utilities that sat under saltwater for so long.”
The park’s Live Oak campground, which is located about a mile inland, remains open. Edisto’s beachfront day use access has also reopened to the public, although some of its protective dunes were washed away in the storm. Gaines said the storm’s powerful surge left excellent opportunities for those who like to look at shells along the beach sands.
However, Hunting Island in Beaufort County remains closed for several more months. Gaines said the damage there is much more extensive. “Hunting Island is a little longer for us to get back on our feet,” he said. “It took a more direct hit and had a lot more severe damage. The storm surge was nine feet and we lost some facilities.”
He said crews are working “diligently” to reopen an inland campground where 89 sites were damaged and a beachfront day use area that were hammered by strong winds and falling trees. Two comfort stations at the park will need to be demolished and replaced. Gaines said the target date is Memorial Day for the day use area and Hunting Island lighthouse museum, but added it could be summer before some of those affected areas reopen again.
A legislative committee last month denied a $1 million request by the State Parks Service to borrow for emergency repairs at both parks. Members of the Joint Bond Review instead urged parks officials to finish estimating the damage and needs for each affected park before they would approve any additional construction money. They did agree to set aside funds for preliminary engineering and design work.