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Cypress Gardens avoids major damage from Hurricane Dorian months after reopening

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Cypress Gardens was able to reopen shortly after Hurricane Dorian passed, avoiding major damages after the park was closed for nearly four years due to repeated natural disasters. File/Staff

MONCKS CORNER — One of the Lowcountry's most idyllic sights is breathing a sigh of relief this week after avoiding major damages from Hurricane Dorian, mere months after reopening from a four-year closure. 

Cypress Gardens, which has been the backdrop in scenes from "The Notebook" and "The Patriot" as well as countless weddings and photo shoots, was able to open for normal business just two days after Dorian's winds and rain left the Palmetto State.

It was welcome news after the historic flood of 2015 closed the park, and subsequent natural disasters kept pushing back efforts to reopen until April. 

"Cleanup at Cypress Gardens is still ongoing. There was significant amount of debris, but no damage to buildings or structures," said Berkeley County spokeswoman Hannah Moldenhauer.

To prepare for Dorian, Moldenhauer said crews drained the Cypress Gardens swamp and put sandbags around buildings. During the park's extended closure, there were improvements made to the standing buildings to ensure better protections for future storms. 

"This made those buildings more sustainable to potential wind and storm damage," she said. "Overall, we are blessed that the park saw minimal impacts and thankful the park was able to reopen so quickly."

After the 2015 flood, Cypress Gardens wasn't walkable, and there was anywhere from 1 to 4 feet of water in most of the buildings. Not only did the organization struggle with bureaucratic delays from the Federal Emergency Management Agency but also a succession of natural disasters followed.

They included Hurricane Matthew in 2016, Tropical Storm Irma in 2017, and a freak January snowstorm in 2018 kept pushing back a possible reopening.

After a renovation project totaling over $2 million in FEMA money, insurance payments and the park's operating funds, the park has resumed its positive impact on the Lowcountry and is better equipped to handle the winds and rains that accompany large storms.

“No more delays. No more closures," Moldenhauer said when the park reopened in April. "Cypress Gardens is once again open for all to enjoy."

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Contact Conner Mitchell at 843-958-1336. Follow him on Twitter at @ConnerMitchell0.

Conner Mitchell is a Kansas native covering Berkeley and Dorchester counties for The Post and Courier. He is a graduate of the University of Kansas and has worked previously at the Kansas City Star, Lawrence Journal-World and Palm Beach Post.

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