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Storm Surge

With Hurricane Irma being labeled catastrophic and historic in its size, officials throughout Colleton County – and especially at Edisto Beach – have been working tirelessly to prepare for local impact from the storm.

On Colleton’s coast, the biggest fear comes down to two words: storm surge.

 

 

“Even with the hurricane not coming at us as a direct hit, which is what it was looking like for a while, we are still talking about a 350-mile-wide hurricane. And that means a storm surge that is impacting this beach,” said George Brouthers, police chief for Edisto Beach Police Department. “We’re going to have wind, that is a given. But we are most worried about the storm surge.”
According to Brouthers, the beach has been having “higher than normal tides.” This is going to cause flooding from the hurricane to be an even more immense threat, he said. “The higher-than-normal tides are because of our moon phase that we are in right now. It happens monthly, and that’s the cycle we are in now,” he said. “It’s unfortunate, but it’s where we are.”

Meteorologists with The National Hurricane Center were already predicting on Sunday “high” threats of flooding, tornadoes and about six inches of rain locally from the hurricane. “Sand bags don’t do a lot for us down here, but we do have some that the county has provided,” he said.

Brouthers says many residents at Edisto Beach began evacuating on Friday morning, leaving houses with boarded windows. Tourists at Edisto Beach are “concerned,” he said, and began asking questions about evacuating on Friday afternoon.

Meanwhile, the Edisto Beach Police Department began evacuating their own equipment on Friday off of the island for safety. The department’s rescue boat was already pulled out of the water, he said.

This helped to raise another “large” piece of information that Brouthers wants people to know, he said.

“The biggest piece of information for people to remember is that once this thing starts, and we are impacted with flooding, we have limited resources to help you,” he said. Brouthers was specifically referring to people who might risk swimming, surfing, boating or sight-seeing during this week during the hurricane and in the aftermath.

“It becomes a safety issue for us, as well,” he said.
Edisto Beach residents who did leave can return to their homes as long as a state mandatory evacuation order is not in place. Once the mandatory evacuation ban is put into place, said Brouthers, residents cannot return to their homes until the Edisto Beach Police Department and other safety organizations first return to the island, clear debris and then deem is “safe,” he said.

As for environmental concerns at Edisto Beach, sea turtle season is still underway. According to Brouthers, there are still about eight to 10 nests on the beach that have yet to hatch. Officers are also focused on maintain the integrity of the main thoroughfares entering the beach, said Brouthers. “We are obviously concerned about the causeway, but if we can keep that open and from flooding, we are looking better,” he added.

Edisto Beach just completed their multi-million dollar renourishment project, which replaced sand lost during the last 10-plus year. Specifically, the renourishment project added sand to the beach lost during Hurricane Matthew in 2016. The project also extended the current rock groins located along the beach in an effort to retain sand and beach front.

Special to The Colletonian (1924 Posts)