Folly Beach County Parks experience flooding, erosion after weekend high tides

Published: Nov. 10, 2021 at 3:20 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 10, 2021 at 8:35 PM EST
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FOLLY BEACH, S.C. (WCSC) - High tides at Folly Beach that led to flooding and erosion this past weekend reached eight and a half feet, Folly Beach Officials said.

Photos taken on Wednesday show the waterline up against the dunes. The dunes along the beach were put in place to protect the seawater from rushing further inland, Folly Beach Coastal Consultant Dr. Nicole Elko said.

Rising sea levels and climate change are to blame for the tidal flooding, Elko said.

“We are experiencing bigger spring tides – that’s what they used to be known as,” Elko said. “Nowadays, people call them king tides, so these are our larger tides that occur during the new moon, particularly during this time of year.”

For every dollar spent on beach restoration, six dollars get put back into South Carolina’s economy because of increased visits to the state’s beaches and parks, officials said.

South Carolina’s accommodation taxes help fund beach restoration efforts, officials said.

“The past weekend’s flooding event was very impactful to the beach and dune system,” Elko said. “The higher waters drove large waves over and flooded the entire beach system, and the dunes were also overtopped.”

Elko added that the dunes helped retain the encroaching water that threatened the nearby marshland and inland communities.

“Previous dune and beach restoration projects have increased the elevation of the beaches and dunes on places like Folly Beach,” Elko said. “So while the dunes are eroded and while the beach went underwater during the storm, we didn’t have those waves and flooding impacting the infrastructure, so these natural projects actually are protecting and serving as flood mitigation.”

As the sun started to set and the tide receded, the extent of the erosion on Folly Beach came into view.

The roots of trees, previously battling waves, were visible, and the wounds created by Mother Nature have scarred the shoreline.

Cale Shipman calls West Ashley home during the winter.

“I feel lucky to be able to spend my winters here, and [flooding] is a big issue for all of these coastal areas, whether it be Charleston or anywhere along the coast,” Shipman said.

Shipman and his wife Marcia spent Wednesday on Folly Beach admiring the waves and discovering what was left behind after the tides rolled in.

“I think these king tides that we’re experiencing this week are unusual in the fact that they’ve had so many of them in a row,” Shipman said.

While the systems in place on the beach held up, those who ventured out on Wednesday witnessed Mother Nature’s power.

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