The town of Edisto Beach finds itself once again cleaning up severe beach damage, just 11 months after Hurricane Matthew washed over the island.
Mayor Jane Darby said only residents with proper ID, employees, landlords and repair contractors are allowed onto the island Wednesday, two days after Tropical Storm Irma brought a storm surge and flooding to the small town of roughly 400 people. Those who live on the island must present proof of residency when crossing the only causeway to access Edisto Beach. Businesses and property management groups are limited to only two nonresident employees at a time for now.
Darby said it will take a two to three tide cycles before high tides start ebbing away from the town, since the storm washed away sand dunes on the beachfront. The mayor said about 35 homes are damaged enough to get “yellow tags,” meaning the owner must make repairs before the owner can live in or rent out the structure.
The dunes were part of a $17 million beach renourishment project the town completed with federal assistance just a few months earlier. Darby said the project did help blunt some of the ocean’s power during Irma.
“We have much less damage this year,” Darby said. “While it is a setback, and it is very frustrating, at least we had put some barriers in place since last year to mitigate the storm surge.”
She said about 70 residents rode out the storm in Edisto Beach, despite an evacuation order from Gov. Henry McMaster. There were no reports of injuries, although some who remained had to be rescued. Most notably, a Charleston TV crew filmed town police rescuing four people and a dog on Monday. McMaster indicated Monday he had seen the rescue on TV himself.
Edisto Beach State Park suffered damage to its facilities. SC State Parks Director Phil Gaines said the park’s Live Oak campground was severely damaged by a storm surge and has canceled reservations until January.
Darby estimated it would take about three months for the town to completely recover. It will also need federal help to once again replace sand and dunes along its beach and sand dunes.
“I was encouraged because I think this will be a much less intensive cleanup (than after Matthew),” she said. “So overall, yes, we had a hurricane last year. We had one this year. But we can handle it.”