Charleston is talking about building a sea wall around the peninsula, and we have questions.
So many, in fact, that the Historic Charleston Foundation hosted a Zoom meeting Tuesday to answer them … following a weekend story from The Post and Courier’s Chloe Johnson responding to reader queries about plans for the wall.
No doubt we have a real problem here. Sea levels are rising as temperatures go up and glaciers melt (see Tony Bartelme’s and Lauren Petracca’s report from Greenland). There’s so much water around that, nowadays, the city floods pretty much anytime some spills a Big Gulp from 7-11 on King Street.
The Army Corps of Engineers has proposed building a $1.1 billion, 8-mile seawall around the peninsula to keep our extensive new drainage system from becoming overwhelmed. But that sounds a tad dramatic — and a little too much like change for many Charleston residents.
Hence, questions. We’ll try to answer some of them here.
Q. Is this sea wall even necessary? I’m tired of this hooey about climate change. Some scientists say it’s just normal cyclical changes in the Earth’s environment.
A. Yes, to some extent climate change is cyclical, and indeed sea level has changed throughout history. For instance, a young girl in Summerville once found a Megalodon tooth buried in her backyard, where it had been since the Atlantic Ocean lapped ashore somewhere near what is now Interstate 95.
So, the sea wall probably isn’t necessary … for anyone who lives west of St. George.
Q. Can we trust the Army Corps of Engineers to tell the truth about this? After all, they’re part of the same federal government trying to force all Americans to take a “vaccine.”
A. Alas, the federal government has a pesky habit of overreach — always blowing money to protect “people” and “property.” We’re with you: The Constitution guarantees Charleston the freedom to sink into the ocean!
Q. I’m really concerned we haven’t seen any renderings of what the sea wall would look like. What are the plans for this monstrosity?
A. Well, design comes later. But we’re not talking Pink Floyd here. Think more High Battery, less Berlin Wall.
Q. Sure, it floods often in downtown Charleston. But some residents are simply raising their homes. Wouldn’t that be more a cost-effective alternative?
A. That’s certainly one option. Some homeowners South of Broad are spending more than $500,000 to raise their historic homes above current flood levels. Unfortunately, the streets will not rise commensurately.
So if the city opts for that route, we’d recommend trading in your Grand Cherokee for a gondola.
Q. If Charleston builds a sea wall, will I still be able to see Fort Sumter?
A. Yes, of course — just bring a step ladder. Only kidding! The sea wall won’t be so high as to impede the city’s iconic view sheds. Unfortunately, it also won’t protect the city next time yahoos take over the fort and decide to bomb us again.
Q. Wouldn’t it be better to just save all that money and let nature take its course?
A. That would save a tremendous amount of money. Of course, we’d blow through most of it paying Two Guys and a Truck to move everyone out of downtown.
Q. One of Charleston’s greatest assets is its historical integrity. Won’t the wall destroy that?
A. Well, when Charles Town moved to the peninsula, the first thing they did was build a wall. Of course, if historical integrity is your thing, perhaps we should return the aptly named Water Street to its historic state … as a creek. Same with Market Street and the Crosstown, etc.
Seeing as how that sort of environmental engineering contributed to our current woes.
Q. The Dutch say we have to learn to live with water. Why don’t we just do that?
A. We could, if you’d quit calling to complain every time Lockwood Boulevard gets a little wet.
Q. Do we really need to deal with this right now? I mean, how imminent is this “sea level rise” anyway?
A. We don’t know for sure, as the Atlantic Ocean has not released its upcoming schedule. But before Wine+Food announced its move to North Charleston, we heard one option was to simply change its name to Wine+Food+Water Wings.
Q. How much is this gonna cost me?
A. Charleston’s share of the sea wall is expected to be $384.5 million. That’s a little less than $3,000 per resident (roughly what SCE&G stole from each of us to not build two nuclear reactors).
Or, we could just hit up every tourist for $10 for five years … if the state Legislature allowed cities to impose such fees.