FOLLY BEACH — C.J. Stabler and his mother walked the beach on Tuesday to see the Charleston County park here, and each of them said “wow.”
Adele Stabler, of Kingsport, Tenn., was flabbergasted, because she last saw Folly Beach County Park before Hurricane Irene tore it to shreds in 2011.
“Where did it go?” she asked. “What happened to it?”
C.J., who just moved to the Lowcountry, was seeing it for the first time — the wide open spread of renourished beach sand, the far-flung knot of remaining maritime forest, the Stono Inlet and islands in the distance.
“It looks like it’s going to be nice,” he said, smiling.
The Folly park used to be an expanse of beach and dunes, with an array of wooden walkovers, restrooms, showers and a long, healthy swath of maritime forest.
It’s now simply a broad crest of renourished beach. The park will reopen with little more than parking, restrooms and lifeguards on hand.
Built on a spit of land on the island’s west end, it was progressively eroded by high surf kicked up by storm tides, until its sand flat washed into the marsh behind.
Most of the forest and dunes are gone. Sand fencing will be placed, so natural dunes should form a few feet per year, said Tim Kana, of Coastal Science & Engineering.
“Dry sand is the main thing (needed) for dune formation,” he said. “We’ll let nature do a lot of that.”
The just-completed renourishment extends only about halfway down the spit to a rock groin — a barrier to trap sand in the surf — now under construction.
That provides an eerie before-and-after image: the wide, sandy beach on one side and washed out tidal flats on the other.