Folly Beach erosion some of the worst in South Carolina

By Eric Egan

FOLLY BEACH, S.C. (WCIV) -- Erosion is a major problem for some Lowcountry beaches thanks to Irene. Folly Beach took one of the biggest blows from the hurricane.

"The big story is the loss of beach on Folly Beach, in the eastern portion of the island and also the county park," said Dan Burger, with the state's Ocean & Coastal Resource Management (OCRM) team.

At the Folly Beach washout Friday, the surf spewed over the sand to the point where it crossed the street. OCRM surveyed South Carolina's entire coastline. OCRM's assessment found Folly Beach had some of the worst erosion.

"The beach profile has lowered anywhere from two to possibly as much as six feet," Burger said. "Some structures on the eastern part of the island have water flowing underneath them on a really strong high tide, which we're experiencing right now."

Hours before Irene hit, the surf slowly approached homes near Summer Place Lane. Joan Schultz owns one of the houses.

"I was worried this (my home) was alright, but I was very concerned about that house," Schultz said.

A sea wall protected her property from the gushing water. But she said her neighbor's home was not as lucky. Its sea wall was destroyed. The broken down wood and debris could not stop the high tide.

"I feel real fortunate, I was trying to figure out this morning how high the waves must have been," she said. "You look at the rock that was all sand. It had to be 12 foot."

The waves were strong enough to knock off the bottom of a boardwalk beach access. It was one of several that got hit.

"I have noticed all the sand on the roads, that's never happened as far as I've been around," said Jake Acheson.

Despite the damage, OCRM says the coast was very fortunate Irene did not make landfall.

Those people whose homes are now structurally threatened will be able to rebuild any barrier they had before the storm under local jurisdiction.