Officials hope Folly Beach park reopens by late Summer

FOLLY BEACH, S.C. (WCIV) -- Two years ago, a chunk of the South Carolina shore was torn apart by Hurricane Irene and parts of Folly beach County Park were washed away into the sea.

From the wreckage, however, a new park is taking shape.

It's not the sound most people would expect coming from a seaside getaway, but for the past three months construction crews have been{} busy hauling, dumping and digging to shore up the shore line.

In 2011, whipping winds and rough seas damaged the popular seaside retreat. The parking lot was washed away and miles of shore line was lost in a turbulent sea.

"The park out here has experienced severe erosion to the point that we had to close the park, and it's been closed pretty much since that time," said Sarah Reynolds with the Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission.

In 2012, engineers began working on plans to rebuild the park. A $3 million renourishment project paid for by a bond through the Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission.

"They are pumping about 415,000 cubic yards of sand from the Folly River on to the beach," said coastal scientist Steven Traynum.

And to make sure all that sand stays in place, Traynum and his team are building a steel groin that acts like a trap to keep the beach from slipping into the sea.

"By having that structure there, it will block a certain amount of sand and it will keep it there in front of the park. If we didn't have it, it would wash further down the coast," he said.

The groin will be anchored by several steel pilings already in place.

"This should be a permanent fix. It's not going to stop erosion along the beach, but it will slow it down so it can be maintained," Traynum said.

It's all part of an effort to bring back a beach that is beloved by many.

"We used to have 400 parking spaces out here, so this park was always busy. It was a huge resource to Folly beach as well as Charleston County Parks," said Reynolds. "It's really been sad since the park has been closed."

Once the groin is finished, Reynolds says there are plans to build a construction road, add 200 parking spaces and eventually public restrooms.

"Right now we are just trying to get the park open and usable so people can get back out here and get back on the beach," she said.

Once the sand is smoothed out and the groin is inserted, the parks commission hopes to have Folly Beach County Park back open by late summer.

To keep up with the progress, visit the Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission's website.