Irene takes toll on Sullivan's Island home

By Stefanie Bainum

SULLIVAN'S ISLAND, S.C. (WCIV) -- Even though the Lowcountry dodged a direct hit from Hurricane Irene, the area was not completely spared from storm damage. On Sullivan's Island, the loss of dunes due to beach erosion over the years created a huge problem for some oceanfront homeowners.

Sounds of drills and hammers could be heard early Saturday morning at Station 30 on Sullivan's Island, as the house of Aaron and Linda Nettles took a beating from Hurricane Irene.

"The waves were just huge. I think the biggest I've ever seen them," said Linda Nettles.

Nettles said she and her family watched Irene's storm surge crash into their home, and there was nothing they could do.

"We saw that the storm was not going to hit us directly so we did all we could do by moving stuff off the deck and putting things inside so it doesn't blow around, but that's about all you can do," she said.

Because of beach erosion, Nettles said her house has become more vulnerable since the time it was built back in 1971.

"We had like two or three dunes out in front of the house and this huge beach and right before Hugo it started eroding and just never built back up afterwards," she said.

Family, neighbors, and even strangers pitched in and helped recover parts of the home's deck and stairs that had washed out onto the rocks on Saturday morning. Mounds of sand also had to be cleared from the first floor.

"I feel blessed right now," Nettles said. "...We wouldn't have had a house if it would have come in on us like its doing in the northeast. I'm just thankful that we still have our home."

Nettles said her family plans to rebuild what they lost to Hurricane Irene, and will pray for no more hurricanes this season.