folly

Matt Foss of the Army Corps of Engineers on Friday drives a vehicle used to gather data on Folly Beach to document erosion from Hurricane Irma. Prentiss Findlay/staff

FOLLY BEACH — Erosion from storms Irma and Matthew has claimed much of the sand from a $30 million beach renourishment project completed three years ago, Mayor Tim Goodwin said.

He pointed to a big dune next to the pier that Irma hammered.

"It's pretty bad all up and down the beach," he said.

On Friday, Goodwin and officials from the Army Corps of Engineers gathered to discuss a new effort to get the shore back in shape.

"We're out here on Folly to collect data," said Lt. Col. Jeff Palazzini, the new commander of the Corps Charleston District.

A high-tech Corps vehicle that used GPS and a technology called LIDAR cruised the beach recording information that would be used to determine how much beach Folly lost because of Irma. LIDAR, which employs laser technology, stands for light detection and ranging. 

When Folly might get new sand to replace what Irma stole is unknown. The report generated here will go up the Army Corps chain of command for review before it is considered for federal funding.

But there is some relief already on the way. About $10 million has been authorized for a beach renourishment project to replace sand lost last year to Matthew. The Corps is hoping to award a contract for that work by the end of the year. It involves dredging 500,000 cubic yards of sand from the Folly River to put on the beach from 8th Street east to Lighthouse Inlet Heritage Park. Some erosion control groins will be repaired, too.

Goodwin said it looks like the amount of beach lost to Irma was more than erosion from Matthew. Folly gets a lot of federal funding for beach renourishment projects because the Charleston Harbor jetties, a federal navigation project, block the offshore southerly flow of sand that would otherwise replenish its beaches. Much of that sand winds up on Sullivan's Island instead, coastal geologists say.

Reach Prentiss Findlay at 843-937-5711.