Hunting Island State Park reopened Friday morning for the first time since Hurricane Matthew tore through the area in October.
The South Carolina State Park Service originally planned to open its most popular coastal park on Memorial Day weekend, but seven inches of rain in three days caused more flooding in areas . And, while some parking areas are still flooded and the beach needs to be renourished, the day use areas are open for visitors.
“This is great news and we’re beyond excited that it’s going to be a park again,” Park Service director Phil Gaines said.
He said the park’s campground is still closed, as are some restrooms damaged by the storm. The park’s marsh boardwalk on the western end of the island is also still closed for repairs. Also not open is the Lighthouse Nature Trail.
But the north beach, picnic areas and Hunting Island’s landmark lighthouse are all open once again.
The group Friends of Hunting Island used more than 100 volunteers to get the park ready this past week. The organization had planned to do the same work last month before the rain washed out their efforts.
Hunting Island is South Carolina’s most popular state park, averaging more than 1 million visitors per year. The 5,000-acre barrier island is located about 10 miles east of Beaufort along the coast, just south of St. Helena Sound.