Now that Irma’s fatal sweep through South Carolina has come and gone, residents and officials worked Tuesday to understand the damage from the massive storm.
It was the third hurricane season in a row that a major storm ravaged the Lowcountry with flooding, hitting the Charleston area and southern beaches worse than any other part of the state.
Irma’s big takeaways:
-Irma created more widespread flooding in the Lowcountry than Hurricane Matthew did in October 2016. Irma's floods were not caused by rainfall alone (here's why), but by a nearly 10-foot storm surge – the worst since Hurricane Hugo in 1989 and the third highest on record for the Charleston Harbor. (Read more on how Irma compares to other storms.)
-Irma’s heaviest recorded rainfall in Charleston was 8.86 inches, compared to 17.49 inches in Matthew and 21.49 inches during the October 2015 floods.
-Though the sun returned Tuesday and roads began to clear, downtown Charleston's "incredible" flooding may take some time to disappear completely. The city deployed three portable drainage pumps in the most flooded areas Tuesday morning, but it wasn't clear if two of them would be working beyond Tuesday night.
DAMAGE AND DESTRUCTION:
-As of Tuesday, officials confirmed that Irma was responsible for four deaths in South Carolina. None of the four occurred in Charleston. (Read more.)
-According to preliminary numbers, Irma is expected to cost $1 to $2 billion in South Carolina, making it the most costly storm in the state since Hurricane Hugo.
-Irma took her toll on the state's southern barrier islands, chewing into dunes, ripping up walkways and spitting large drifts of sand and debris onto roads. Folly Beach suffered worse erosion than it did during Hurricane Matthew. Edisto Island's main road was completely submerged in sand Tuesday, but officials found the damage overall to be less extensive that what the island experienced during Matthew.
-As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, utilities reported that 121,000 were still without power across South Carolina. The outage number had peaked Monday night at 275,000. Utilities expect a "multi-day" effort to fix the remaining outages. (Read more.)
-At least 30 people were rescued in downtown Charleston during the worst of Irma's floods.
-Irma swept the iconic Folly Beach boat into its waters and took the roof off of the notable octagon house on Sullivan's Island. On Tuesday, Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor remained filled with 3 feet of water.
-Gov. Henry McMaster backed up his decision to not order a mandatory evacuation for Charleston, explaining that he considered the economic impacts it would have on a city that relies heavily on tourism. He said that warning people of the surge instead of forcing them out of the area was "the right thing to do." (Read more.)
-A Columbia woman, who was staying in downtown Charleston during the storm, told CNN she "had a false sense of security because we weren't asked to evacuate." Nance Pence had to call 911 as flood waters filled the home and she was unable to open the door. But Charleston Mayor Tecklenburg said Tuesday that he agreed with the governor's decision. He said he would not have supported the decision if Irma had kept its previously expected path over the Atlantic towards South Carolina.
And now, the cleanup begins in Charleston. https://t.co/BAYiu3FJ38— Meg Wagner (@megwagner) September 12, 2017
-Folly Beach Mayor Time Goodwin said that despite the erosion, things could've been much worse for Folly if it hadn't been spared destruction that happened in Florida and the Caribbean. "We've got a real mess. They've got a real disaster," he said.
-Despite a main drag completely covered in sand, Edisto Mayor Jane Darby was "grateful" Irma did not do as much damage to the island as Matthew did.
The Post and Courier Staff contributed to this report.