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Hurricane Irene: High water closes island streets

Pawleys Island Police posted at the two causeways turned away vehicles Friday evening as the storm-driven tide from Hurricane Irene filled Pawleys Creek to overflowing. The gusting northeast wind kept the water high.

Police said the water on Springs Street on the narrow south end of the island was 4 feet deep in places as the ocean waves broke over the beach and met the rising water from the creek. At the high tide around 7 p.m., Midway Fire and Rescue told police it would not be able to provide fire protection on the south end because of the high water.

A steady procession of cars rolled up to the North Causeway, where Cpl. Matt Elliott told them only residents or renters were allowed on the island because of the high water. And, he told them, it was saltwater that would damage their vehicles.

"I see what you mean," said one driver who drove far enough down the bridge to see the flooded streets as she turned her SUV around.

Most just wanted to have a look at the beach.

"We can't allow it," Police Chief Guy Osborne said. "It puts them at risk, it puts public safety at risk."

The few drivers who left the island were met with advice from police to get to a car wash and rinse the underside of their vehicle.

The large hurricane that residents have tracked this week as its course shifted away from South Carolina toward North Carolina produced heavy rain and some strong gusts, but the flooding was only a little worse that the town sees on extreme high tides with less threatening weather.

"It's not that we haven't seen anything like this," Osborne said. Though it isn't often the water laps at the foundation of Town Hall, he added.

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