Beaches battered by high tides, high winds
FOLLY BEACH ó High winds pushed astronomically high tides over dunes and under beachfront homes from one end of the Lowcountry beaches to the other last week, tearing off shanks of sand from places even residents arenít used to seeing.
The erosion was punishing for places like Folly Beach, already in crisis from erosion. The damage was worse than the remnant dunes took from passing Hurricane Sandy late last month, said Mayor Tim Goodwin.
The city has written Gov. Nikki Haley asking for aid, a first step to appealing for federal aid, Goodwin said. Individual homeowners have applied for emergency permits to put up barriers.
At her daughterís house on Folly Beach near the pier, which normally escapes damage, ďitís just missing sand, a big chunk, about six feet of sand,Ē said surfer Nancy Hussey. ďItís just pushed up over the dunes.Ē
Folly isnít alone. Isle of Palms lost more than 40 feet of beach on its west end toward Breach Inlet, a spot where sand generally accretes, said Douglas Kerr, planning and building director.
On Sullivanís Island near the lighthouse, another place where sand has been accreting, the surf took out dunes, said Fire Chief Anthony Stith.
Maybe the scariest part, going into the winter season when noríeaster storms tend to wreak havoc, the tides werenít that high, only a foot or so above normal. The winds, though, steadily blew near 30 mph, and there were driving rains.
ďYou had the winds coming onshore, and that just makes it worse,Ē said meteorologist Brett Cimbora with the National Weather Service, Charleston.
Goodwin gave a wry sigh as he talked about it. The city has been trying for more than a year to wrestle federal money for a beach renourishment that should have been scheduled to take place next summer.
The federal government is under contract to pay the bulk of the multimillion-dollar beach nourishment cost for Folly, because of a sand depletion caused by the Charleston jetties upstream in the flow of sand along the shore.
Because of federal budget battles, it wonít happen any sooner than 2014.
ďWeíre trying to get some money to do what we can before 2014,Ē Goodwin said. ďWe havenít heard any good news yet.Ē
Reach Bo Petersen at 937-5744 or @bopete on Twitter.