FOLLY BEACH, SC (WCSC) - Officials say they have seen 5 to 15 feet of beach erosion on Folly Beach after Hurricane Earl passed by some 300 miles to the east Thursday.
Officials closed a section of the Folly Beach County Park parking lot, which has been washed out. A section of a boardwalk is also damaged.
The army corp of engineers re nourish this part of the beach every couple of years, but Earl is likely to leave permanent damage.
"That lost sand may not come back on shore," said Leslie Slautter, a geology professor at College of Charleston. "Some of it will but probably in the long term you'll see a deficit. That's just the nature of Folly."
Slautter said beach erosion on Folly Beach is nothing new.
"Sand that should supply Folly is not able to get to Folly because of the Charleston harbor jetties," Slautter said.
Those jetties prevent sand from washing back onto the beach naturally, leaving Folly exposed, especially during a hurricane.
It doesn't take long for a beach to erode when a hurricane is out to sea. A particular sand dune at Folly Beach eroded about 15 feet in just a few hours. This could continue especially with more trouble looming.
"Having these hurricanes in close succession is a problem because Folly doesn't have the time to restore any of the sand," Slautter said. "The next storm comes along and takes the sand that's offshore and may move it over further making it difficult to recover."
Beach re-nourishment is not expected on Folly Beach for another two years, leaving many with homes on the beach waiting to see what will happen next.
"There are a lot of homes that are going to be in danger in the future I would suspect," Slautter said.