On October 8th, Hurricane Matthew, a powerful storm that affected thousands of people from Haiti to Wilmington, NC, made its first landfall in the United States in McClellanville, SC, just north of Charleston. The Charleston region was bracing for a direct impact that had many calling the storm the second Hurricane Hugo.
Luckily, in the United States at least, that didn’t happen. Compared to the projections, damage from Hurricane Matthew was fairly minimal to infrastructure. However, damage to beaches along the South Carolina coast was not as easy to see to the naked eye. That’s why the Charleston District had assessment teams roaming the beaches in the next few weeks to determine the damage to our federal projects.
Assessments were conducted at Folly, Myrtle and Edisto Beaches. Engineers and surveyors took measurements of sand height, which allowed them to gauge the height of the beach and dunes in order to compare it to the same spots as they had surveyed before the storm. Comparing these calculations gave the District an idea of how much sand was lost on each beach from the storm.
Karen Durham-Aguilera, USACE director of contingency operations and office of homeland security, came down from USACE Headquarters to visit Myrtle Beach and meet with Mayor Marilyn Hatley and assess the damage. Durham-Aguilera was putting an emphasis on visiting the impacted areas of Corps responsibility and saw first-hand the impact at Myrtle Beach.
The Charleston District is still in the process of analyzing the data to determine exactly how much sand was lost at each federal project. Once that information is known, the District will be able to decide on the next path forward for if any of the projects would qualify for emergency funding for an emergency beach renourishment.