South Carolina is no stranger to hurricanes and each one takes its toll on shorelines and beach communities located here and across the Atlantic coastal region.
After each significant storm, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers personnel assess erosion impacts, work hand-in-hand with state and local partners to determine mitigation measures for erosion damage to shoreline projects and take authorized measures to rehabilitate affected areas.
According to USACE Deputy Commanding General for Civil and Emergency Operations, Maj. Gen. Scott A. Spellmon, these efforts are extremely beneficial to both local communities and nationwide efforts to protect the environment and foster economic growth.
“Our scientists venture out and measure where shoreline erosion has occurred,” said Spellmon. “At Myrtle Beach, it appears the impacts of Hurricane Florence were enough that we’re adding additional quantities of sand to an existing contract that was underway to address damages from Hurricanes Matthew and Irma.”
Work was paused here because dredging vessels and equipment were moved to safe harbor during the storm. Work was able to resume a little more than a week later.
“We deployed high-tech equipment to quantify the losses and then utilizing dredging vessels and ship-to-shore pipelines to rehabilitate the federal project, thus ensuring beaches and dunes are ready to provide their full benefits whenever the next storm may impact the area,” added Spellmon.
Brian Williams, Charleston District chief of programs and civil project management, says this project covers more than 25 miles of beach shoreline.
“Under normal conditions, we cost-share 65 percent of this work at the federal level,” said Williams. “But in emergency situations like the one following Hurricane Florence, we fully fund all rehabilitation operations, subject to Congressional appropriations, in support of our state and municipal partners.”
Great Lakes Dredge & Dock LLC, contracted to complete this project, utilizes hopper dredges to pump sand from the sea floor through drag arms from a location approximately three miles from the impacted shoreline.
The sand being pumped to the beach comes from an underwater area about 30 feet below the Atlantic Ocean’s surface.
The re-nourished shoreline beaches and dunes serve to reduce the impacts of future hurricanes and other coastal storms to communities and infrastructure. With that in mind, USACE partners with state and municipal officials on shoreline restoration initiatives like the one in Myrtle Beach.