Pretty soon, the more than 15 million visitors each year to both Folly Beach and the Grand Strand will have new sand to set their chairs on. But, more importantly, the people and property behind the dunes will have a reduced risk from storms.
Stabilizing beaches and dunes through renourishment is a critical mission of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Charleston District is concurrently renourishing both Folly Beach and the Grand Strand, consisting of Myrtle, North Myrtle, and Garden City/Surfside beaches, in order to minimize the impacts to people and infrastructure during a storm event like South Carolina has seen in each of the previous three years.
The $10 million Folly Beach project is being funded through federal emergency beach rehabilitation funding from Hurricanes Matthew and Irma. Through the project, approximately 750,000 cubic yards of material are being placed on Folly Beach.
“The project is unique in that it is considered a beneficial use project,” said Wes Wilson, project manager. “The material being placed on the beach is being dredged from Folly River, clearing the federal channel for recreational and commercial boaters, meaning two projects are being completed at once. Sand was also pumped from Folly River onto Bird Key Stono in March for wildlife habitat construction.”
While the Folly Beach project is scheduled to wrap up in September, the Myrtle Beach project just kicked off at the beginning of August. This $34.8 million project is 100 percent federally funded and will place approximately 1.4 million cubic yards of material across the three reaches that make up the project. This follows up the 1.3 million cubic yards of sand that were placed just last year in North Myrtle and Garden City/Surfside beaches through emergency funding due to Hurricanes Matthew and Joaquin.
“We acknowledge that people may see temporary inconveniences while the project is underway, but it has many long-term benefits, especially during storm season,” said Wilson. “Barring mechanical or weather delays, active construction moves quickly and should only be in front of any particular building for three to four days.”
The Myrtle Beach project is scheduled to be completed in December. Work on each project happens 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and approximately 500 feet of beach is completed per day. As a portion of the projects are taking place during sea turtle nesting season, the contractor is complying with the requirements of the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammals Protection Act.
The public can view the progress of each project in real time on the Charleston District’s website.