Sandy takes some of edge off America

Matt Boles with the Army Corps of Engineers surveys the dunes at Folly Beach with a GPS device, in order to compare results of the dunes before and after Hurricane Sandy passed South Carolina.

FOLLY BEACH — If only Hurricane Sandy’s name meant good news for Folly Beach, an island which has had its beaches washed away by erosion. Instead, the storm stole sand from the Edge of America’s shoreline.

Some beachgoers had to take a leap off a small drop-off in the sand to get onto the shore on Monday on West 5th Street’s beach access. Joy Whitehead was taking her regular walk along the beach as she watched someone jump from the beach access at end of the stairs onto the sand.

“They’re hopping onto the beach,” she said as she laughed. “That’s crazy.”

Hurricane Sandy is gone but its effects linger. It washed away between 3 and 5 feet of sand in some areas over the weekend, according to Folly Beach flood plan manager Eric Lutz.

“In the grand scheme of things it was a pretty good chunk of beach,” Lutz said.

On Monday, members of the Army Corps of Engineers were measuring the sand losses. Engineers used a GPS instrument along marked points they already had measured on Friday before the storm passed. They’ll compare the measurements, which will show them just how much beach was washed away.

Water breached some sand dunes, according to Lutz, who called it “disappointing.” The erosion also may have exposed the utility service lines underneath an unoccupied rental property in the 1600 block of Ashley Avenue, according to SCE&G spokeswoman Kim Asbill.

“We’re working with the property manager to make the necessary arrangements to have the utility relocated so that it’s safe,” she said.

The sand loss on the island could pile on to the cost of a re-nourishment project in the works by the Army Corps of Engineers. Part of the project’s price tag includes pumping sand onto the beach.

“The more we have to place, the more expensive it is,” said Lisa Metheney, assistant chief of programs and project management division.

The federal budget won’t be released until February. Until then, the Corps won’t know if they’ll get the $18 million to $20 million slated for the project. In the meantime, the Edge of America hangs on.

The rest of the Lowcountry fared relatively well following Sandy’s skirting along our coast. SCE&G couldn’t give an exact number of outages due to the storm, but spokeswoman Asbill said it was a relatively small number.

“A little more activity than normal because of the wind,” she said.

Reach Natalie Caula at 937-5594 or