Myrtle Beach monitors Earl's impact on coastline

By Jennifer Grove - bio | email

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - This week, the City of Myrtle Beach says they are monitoring the coastline of the Grand Strand closely, looking for any erosive effects Earl may have on the area's sandy beaches.

Joe Melo has been enjoying his family vacation at the beach. Like most visitors, he says his focus is not on what is going on behind the scenes to keep the beaches beautiful however.

"People don't think about that when you come to the beach, " he said.  "You just want to see a nice sand beach and don't think of anything else."

The City of Myrtle Beach says that is exactly how it should be.

"We really don't want them to have to worry about 'Is the beach there? Is it time for a renourishment?'," Kruea said. "That's something that we're concerned about."

It is a concern that is heightened during hurricane season, forcing city workers to take extra steps to protect what Kruea says is the area's number one natural resource.

"What we try to do is determine the profile of the beach prior to a storm coming in," City Superintendent of Streets and Drainage Steve Moore explained.  "Then we would take shots of the beach after that to see the difference in the erosion rate before and after a storm."

Moore says the pictures, like the ones taken on Wednesday of this week, are used as a record of beach erosion.

"If a storm were to occur, or even if we were to get high tides and severe beach erosion, we can go take those same photos at the same tide cycles and that will tell us how we've been impacted by that storm," he said.

"If we have a major hurricane whether it's Earl or some hurricane down the road the [Army] Corps of Engineers & OCRM will take a look at it and say 'Gee, you really do need to make a repair here'," Kruea explained.

Kruea says the effects of storms like Earl, however, are not always erosive.

"Mother Nature puts sand on the beach and she takes sand away," he says. "It's a give and take environment."

"We could lose 5 to 6 feet of elevation to the beach over one storm period, or overnight. That's not unusual," Moore said. "What happens [is] that sand migrates out into the surf zone." Moore says over time those southeastern winds will move that sand back onto the beach.

Kruea says if sand is stripped off the beaches, that could speed up the multi-million dollar renourishment process of pumping fresh sand back on the beaches to replace what Mother Nature has taken away.

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