As local tourism officials sent out the message Tuesday that the coast is clear and visitors are welcome to return after Irma swept through on Monday, most of Charleston’s tourist attractions remained closed at least until Wednesday.
"The coast is clear," according to a banner at the top of the Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau website. "We are thankful to have successfully weathered the storm, and are cleaning up to welcome our visitors."
Hotels reported little damage and were ready for visitors. But the City Market remained closed Tuesday, along with Patriots Point, the South Carolina Aquarium, Fort Sumter, Fort Moultrie, the Charles Pinckney site, Boone Hall Plantation, Magnolia Plantation, Drayton Hall and Middleton Place.
City crews were at the Battery on Tuesday cleaning up debris along the south wall, where water and waves spilled over onto Murray Boulevard during the storm Monday afternoon. The nearly 10-foot storm surge was the highest in Charleston since Hurricane Hugo in 1989.
As far the beaches, the National Weather Service was warning of dangerous waves all day Tuesday, but conditions should be better by Wednesday.
The Aquarium, Boone Hall and Middleton Place announced that they will reopen Wednesday.
Magnolia Plantation, Drayton Hall, Fort Moultrie and the Charles Pinckney site plan to be back in business Thursday.
"Like everyone else, we have lots of downed limbs, accumulated moisture and other effects from the storm," Drayton Hall President and CEO Carter Hudgins said. "I’m delighted to report that the estate, the grounds and the new construction related to our facilities expansion project came through unscathed."
Fort Sumter — one of the state's most popular attractions as the site where the Civil War started — and the Liberty Square visitor center will be closed until further notice to repair damage to the docks and from water that got inside, according to Dawn Davis with the National Park Service. Fort Sumter was still flooded late Tuesday afternoon.
Visitors are advised to check websites for updates.
The storm brought tropical-force winds that felled dozens of trees, including several at Magnolia Plantation.
"We stayed here and could hear the trees crashing," said Tom Johnson, director of gardens at the plantation near the Ashley River.
They lost several big cypress trees, including one that was 4 feet in diameter that could have crushed the conservatory, a popular wedding venue, if it had fallen in the wrong direction.
But it was better than Hurricane Matthew, which took down 38 trees at the gardens last October.
"So to lose two or three this time is kind of nice," Johnson said.
Magnolia Plantation still had no electricity Tuesday afternoon. Workers were cleaning up debris, with plans to reopen Thursday morning.
The storm brought a number of refugees from Florida to Charleston-area hotels, and there are other Charleston connections to the damage there.
Among Charleston native Michael Bennett’s extensive hospitality holdings is the Holiday Inn and Express in Marathon, Fla., an area that was pretty well wiped out by Irma.
Marathon is on a thin strip of land that extends from the southern tip of the mainland to Key West, connected by a highway over the ocean. FEMA estimated that 25 percent of the houses on the Keys were destroyed and 65 percent suffered major damage, according to CNN. An accurate damage report was not available Tuesday afternoon because of uncertainty whether the bridge from the mainland could sustain traffic.
Bennett said Tuesday that he had heard that employees were fine but he was not able to get any information on the hotel.
"The Keys are shut down," he said. "We have not been able to get any phone service there. We are glad that our partners and employees are safe. No one stayed in Marathon. From the limited pictures we've seen it does appear that the Keys and Marathon were hit very hard."