The storms keep coming, and the beaches can't catch up.
Joaquin, Matthew, Irma. All flattened dunes, brought flooding and battered boardwalks.
The hurricanes and tropical storm have delivered a triple whammy that left too little time for recovery. Now the island communities are back at the task of restoring their shores.
Post-Irma assessment of area beach erosion continued Tuesday amid emergency work to shore up crippled dunes protecting homes and streets.
At Isle of Palms, heavy equipment scraped sand to rebuild berms from Breach Inlet to 10th Avenue where the storm took out all the primary dunes. Wild Dunes around Beachwood East and the Grand Pavilion was also affected.
"It was very damaging to the beachfront," said Mayor Dick Cronin.
A state emergency order allows communities to act quickly to protect dunes rather than go through the usual process of seeking an individual permit first.
Edisto Beach, where Gov. Henry McMaster ordered an evacuation, lost some 100,000 cubic yards of sand to Irma, said Steve Traynum of Coastal Science and Engineering.
That amount of beach is the equivalent of about 8,300 dump truck loads.
"It was a fairly major erosion event. You have to look at it in conjunction with Joaquin and Matthew," he said.
Hurricane Matthew slammed into South Carolina a year ago, dumping nearly a foot of rain in many areas of the Lowcountry. The 6-foot storm surge turned streets into rivers and parking lots into ponds. Dunes were decimated. The year before, Hurricane Joaquin brought torrential rains and a "1,000-year flood" to the area.
"The beaches hadn't recovered completely when Irma hit," Traynum said.
Folly Beach is waiting on a report from the Army Corps of Engineers to find out just how much sand it lost and what can be done about it.
"We're looking at very little beach remaining," said Spencer Wetmore, city administrator.
Folly is asking the Corps for emergency beach work. The Corps surveyed the shore about a week ago using an ATV outfitted with special technology to record beach profile data for analysis. The findings will be sent to division headquarters for approval and become public in about two months, said Corps spokesman Sean McBride.
In the meantime, some Folly property owners are apparently moving ahead with beach fixes under the state emergency order that allows them to act on their own. Evidence of that sort of activity could be seen at the end of East Arctic Avenue where a backhoe was stationed next to a big pile of sand.
Irma caused other problems at Folly when it broke 13 X-shaped cross braces that connect the beach's pier pilings. The timbers that form the cross braces are about 19 feet long, said county Parks & Recreation spokeswoman Sarah Reynolds.
Before Irma, ongoing repairs to the pier were behind schedule because of rainy weather. Now, replacing the 13 cross braces will become part of the ongoing project to shore up 11 pilings.
Kiawah Island beaches suffered too as Irma dug into dunes formed since Hurricane Matthew. No homes were threatened, said town spokeswoman Stephanie Edgerton.
"Our beach had been accreting rapidly over the last year and a series of new, low dunes had formed extending 30 to 50 feet beyond the erosion line from last fall," she said. "These new dunes were lost during the storm and the island’s main dune line eroded an additional 5-15 feet in most areas."
Some emergency work is underway to repair berms at Kiawah.
"Right now they are looking at some renourshment projects but those are still in the works," she said.
Kiawah felt other effects from Irma. Floodwaters are blamed for small cracks in Kiawah Parkway pavement from the roundabout to the front gate. The affected section of parkway will be repaved, Edgerton said.