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The flood: Pawleys may seek emergency beach repairs

Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

It wasn’t the water that fell from the sky, but the water driven across the ocean by the a passing hurricane that caused the most damage on Pawleys Island. The town may seek state and federal permits to make emergency repairs along its eroded beachfront, Mayor Bill Otis said after walking the length of the beach Wednesday.

Between 6 and 10 feet of dune was cut back during the storm, which also dumped record amounts of water around the state. The tides, already at extreme highs due to the moon’s orbit, were another 2 feet higher from the passage of Hurricane Joaquin.

The island lost 6 to 10 feet of dunes in the area below Pawleys Pier, Otis said. Those dunes were just beginning to recover from severe erosion caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, he said.

“There are a lot of damaged or missing walkways. Most of them south of the pier need work,” Otis said.

The town closed beach accesses at Hazard and Pritchard streets where walkways were damaged.

The town commissioned a survey of the beach last year. That gives it baseline data to assess the damage. Otis said the town is the third client in line for a new survey from Coastal Science and Engineering. “Two communities in Charleston County had already hired CSE,” he said.

Otis has also been in contact with the permitting agencies: the Army Corps of Engineers and the state Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management.

None of the town’s homeowners had reported any structural damage as of Wednesday, Town Administrator Ryan Fabbri said. The town has tightened its regulations to reduce flood damage in recent years. “Other places don’t experience flooding on a regular basis. We do,” Fabbri said. “All in all, we got out of it without a scratch.”

The severe flooding in the state is being called a “1,000-year storm.” Although it was less severe on Waccamaw Neck, Fabbri said it will serve as a reminder about the importance of flood insurance, particularly for homeowners who are outside of the designated flood zones.

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