As Nicole approaches, erosion is the big concern at Folly Beach
FOLLY BEACH, S.C. (WCSC) - When Hurricane Ian stormed through the Lowcountry in September, it left Folly Beach’s erosion defenses wiped out, clearing the way for Tropical Storm Nicole to continue the assault on the coastline. The city is now requesting help to restore beach erosion.
Residents have come to the beach throughout the day to see the damage as high tides Thursday morning came up all the way to the sand dunes, an area that is normally very dry.
“A large concern in that request is the lack of storm protection and flood mitigation in place to buffer from another hurricane,” Nicole Elko, coastal consultant for Folly Beach, said. “Folly Beach has little to no capacity to withstand additional erosion from another storm. Fortunately, the dune system is robust along most of the island and that will help protect the upland infrastructure.”
With a high tide on Thursday of 8.63 feet the Folly River bridge, the effects from Nicole are already visible. The city’s director of public works, Eric Lutz, says between Ian and Nicole, portions of the beach are now completely gone at certain points of the day.
With Nicole, the beach has very little capacity to withstand storms, which means less beach for everyone.
“So now we’re going to be looking at lots of areas on the beach where anywhere it’s not low tide, you won’t have any beach to hang out on,” Lutz said. “There will be variants on that but anywhere, probably east of the washout, is going to be pretty severe so you’ll have beach maybe between half of the cycle between tides.”
Lutz says the amount of beach comes and goes. He says this is not the worst erosion he has ever seen.
Lutz says large concrete slabs, known as groins, were installed on the beach around the Folly Beach Pier back in the 90s. They were designed to catch the sand and create sand dunes. Before the storms, those groins were completely covered by sand except for a few feet of exposed concrete painted yellow. Now the storms have whisked away enough sand to expose 15 feet of concrete.
Elko says the city is already in the process of requesting federal emergency rehabilitation assistance from Ian impacts. Lutz says he hopes to get new sand on the beach by 2024.
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