EDISTO BEACH, SC (WCSC) - South Carolina's secretary of transportation toured Edisto Beach, one of the areas placed under a mandatory evacuation ahead of Tropical Storm Irma, to see damage firsthand.
Sec. of Transportation Christy Hall met with Mayor Jane Darby Wednesday as SCDOT crews worked to clear about a mile-and-a-half of sand from roads.
Hall said 50 SCDOT employees are working on Edisto Beach and those crews are expected to remain there for four to seven days. Some portions of the town still have standing water and there has also been tree damage.
Edisto Beach was the heaviest-impacted area in South Carolina, Hall said.
The deepest area of excess sand measured two-and-a-half feet.
Earlier, Darby said town officials built up derms, that function like sand dunes, after Hurricane Matthew made landfall in the Lowcountry in October 2016. If they had not done so, she says, the damage from Irma likely would have been much worse.
Darby said the main priority, since we are still in storm season, is to get the dunes built back up so that area of protection is replenished.
Several residents say Irma did not have the impact on the beach Matthew did. However, Irma still packed a punch, dumping mounds of sand on roads and knocking out power for days. Some homes regained power Wednesday while outages continue for others.
There are other crews aside from DOT working to clear the sand. Heath Fogle works for Brabham Oil Co.
"We probably got here at 9:30 this morning and we're getting the majority of it up we got the sweeper going we got the Kubota going, we're trying to get what we can up," Fogle said.
Gov. Henry McMaster ordered residents of Edisto Beach to evacuate beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday ahead of the impacts from Irma Sunday night and throughout Monday.
On Tuesday morning, McMaster lifted the mandatory evacuation but said Edisto Beach was one of several areas that would have restricted access based on road conditions and safety issues in the area.