Work continues on Colonial Lake plants after damage from Irma

Colonial Lake in downtown Charleston. (Source: Live 5)
Colonial Lake in downtown Charleston. (Source: Live 5)
Volunteers are working to clear dead plants at Colonial Lake. (Source: Live 5)
Volunteers are working to clear dead plants at Colonial Lake. (Source: Live 5)

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - One month after the Lowcountry felt the impacts of Hurricane Irma, the aftermath is still obvious in some areas.

One of those areas is Colonial Lake in downtown Charleston.

"It was looking great again and we were excited about it," Kellen Goodell, a horticulturist with the Charleston Parks Conservancy, said.

But then came Hurricane Irma.

"We're at or below sea level and when you have storms like that, with big tides and surge, it's inevitable that water is going to pour in from everywhere," Goodell said.

The result: everything looked dead immediately after the storm. Dozens of volunteers gathered to clear the paths of debris, trash and muck. And now it's tending to the plants.

"It's just plant by plant and what needs to be done whether it's the leaves taken off, pruned, or let sit and respond," Goodell added.

But this isn't the first time something like this has happened. It was nearly the exact same situation after Hurricane Matthew in 2016. It took $40,000 to replace all of the plants destroyed by Hurricane Matthew at Colonial Lake.

"What we had last year was a situation where those plants had been in the ground less than six months," Charleston Park Conservancy Executive Director Harry Lesesne said. "Essentially they were still container plants. So when they had 18 hours of salt water inundation – most of them did not respond terribly well."

Lesesne believes this time around won't be quite as bad.

"We had a full growing season with the plants this year and they've done a little better," he said. "Things are now flushing out and greening up."

Lesesne said the Beaufain Street end of the park is a little bit higher and didn't see quite as much water so it faired better than the Broad Street end.

"This is what the park would have looked like after a hard freeze," Lesesne said.

Folks with the Conservancy plan to start replanting after the beginning of 2018. We should see life coming back springtime.

The Conservancy is the main agency in charge of keeping Colonial Lake's garden beds, and the like, the way it is. The nonprofit organization is in a public/private partnership with the City of Charleston. The entire Colonial Lake project cost about $5.5 million.

Click here to learn more, volunteer or donate to the effort.

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