The problem with Folly Beach County Park isn't a lack of sand, it's an abundance of red tape.
The beach isn't due for renourishment for another year, the storm that caused the problem didn't technically hit Folly, and the state and feds keep pointing fingers at each other.
It's no wonder the park is closed until further notice.
Last week, Charleston County lawmakers asked South Carolina's congressional delegation to find money to fix the park's beach, which has pretty much washed away. Asking this state's congressmen for money is by definition hopelessly optimistic. After all, some of them -- cough, Jim DeMint -- would oppose money to dredge Charleston Harbor, the superhighway for the state's biggest economic generator.
So you can't imagine they feel warm and fuzzy about sand.
Luckily, U.S. Rep. Tim Scott is in fact not only working on a plan, he has a plan B.
A real emergency
Back on Christmas Eve, Scott toured Folly, and his assessment did not exactly deliver holiday cheer.
He said the federal government is breaking its promises for money left and right, and the days of earmarks are over. Which was refreshingly, and brutally, honest.
When Scott said he'd call Gov. Nikki Haley, some folks feared it was passing the buck. But actually, he set in motion a plan that might solve this problem.
After Scott's call, the governor's office requested FEMA money for Folly. Town officials hadn't asked Haley to declare it a disaster area because, well, the hurricane that caused much of the current erosion didn't actually hit the beach.
Doesn't mean it didn't cause problems. Obviously.
Scott hopes that FEMA will come through and the park can get, appropriately, emergency relief.
That would make sense. But Scott's not holding his breath.
It's going to get worse
Scott's staff has been poring over Folly Beach's contract with the Army Corps of Engineers.
You see, long ago the feds admitted what locals already knew -- that the harbor jetties significantly exacerbate erosion on the island. That makes this a little different than trying to fight Mother Nature; the jetties block nature's regularly scheduled renourishment.
The corps agreed to help rebuild the beach on an eight-year schedule, and the next round is due in 2013. Scott has found no wiggle room in the contract, no "or as needed" clause, so he's going to try a strange argument: logic.
"From my perspective, it will only get worse if this has to wait another year," Scott says. "If you do it now, you will actually be spending less money."
He is absolutely right. If the south end of Folly sits unprotected for another year, it may not be there at all by next year.
It's a strong case, but the freshman congressman has been in D.C. long enough to know that his argument could fall on deaf ears.
"Logic and the federal government do not always go together," he says.
For Folly's sake, let's hope this time turns out to be the exception.
Follow Brian Hicks on Twitter at @BriHicks_PandC.