FOLLY BEACH, S.C. (WCSC) - Folly Beach officials are combating several challenges through Memorial Day weekend as people pack on to the island.
They say traffic, the heat, and rule-breakers are just the beginning of the things they are keeping a close eye on.
Memorial Day weekend is known as the official summer kick-off.
Thousands of people pack in to the Lowcountry beaches weekly, especially during the summer holidays. Folly Beach officials say they expect about 40,000 people to visit the island over the weekend, which means stand-still traffic is a huge concern.
“Backups will probably be pushing an hour to an hour and a half from Ft. Johnson to the beach,” said Andrew Gilreath, the Folly Beack police chief.
One family visiting from Delaware says they made it just in time and plan on walking everywhere on Folly to avoid the chaos.
“It started to pile up but we made our way slowly and finally made it right before it piled up,” said Leah Woodall, a tourist from Delaware.
Gilreath says they’re fighting the traffic the best they can by bringing in extra crews to help people park properly and get through the light as quickly as possible.
He says once traffic starts to build, they will shut down the light and manually control traffic.
The chief says traffic isn’t their only concern. Authorities say they have medics on standby ready to treat heat injuries. The Lowcountry is expected to reach high temperatures in the 100’s through the weekend.
“They need to make sure they’re drinking a lot of water on days with this much heat,” Gilreath says.
There’s also the issue of rule-breakers. Gilreath says it’s not if people bend rules, but when.
“The bigger things are dogs on the beach,” Gilreath says. “Dogs off leash, glass bottles, glass and the beach don’t mix. On top of that the alcohol.”
He says the official start to summer means the official start to the intense enforcement of the town’s laws.
“It’s important for us because it sets a tone for the rest of the summer,” Gilreath says. “We want folks to have a good time but do so responsibly.”
He says the island is known for its lazy atmosphere but not when it comes to the law.
“Folly is taking a tougher stance on people coming out here responsibly and don’t tear it up. It’s important to make sure they’re following rules,” Gilreath says.
Officials say their only wish is that everyone has fun, but also stays safe when travelling and being on the beach.