PAWLEYS ISLAND, SC (WMBF) – Dunes along the Pawleys Island beaches were swept away during storms in October, so the town council members decided to fund a repair project to fortify the damaged dunes.
"If the dunes go, then the island is right behind," Pawleys Island Mayor Bill Otis said.
The town started going through the steps to secure permits and funding for beach repairs soon after the flooding in October, but the town council ended up voting to fund a $150,000 project and now waits to see if FEMA or any other outside sources will reimburse the cost.
The money for the project comes from the $5 million dollar ATAX fund the town has saved up specifically for beach protection.
The construction started at the beginning of the month and ended Tuesday night, more than a week ahead of schedule.
Crews scraped sand from the low tide line, then brought it up the beach and pushed it toward the dunes to eliminate the high drop offs that had formed from the dunes down to the sand in October.
Andrew Giles, senior technical associate for Coastal Science and Engineering, said this was the first time the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a permit for a town-wide emergency beach scraping.
The construction crews ended up covering 17,000 liner feet of beach.
"We've actually been able to scrape the whole island and build protection in front of all of the houses on the island, which is more than we ever hoped we'd be able to get done in the time frame we ended up with," Otis said.
The scraping repair method shifted around existing sand, but Otis called it a band aid because he said the beach still needs new sand to replace the 100,000 cubic yards of sand lost in October. Renourishment can cost millions of dollars.
"The governor and the legislature are working this week to try to provide the money for the state's beaches, which is way overdue," Otis said.
The beach accesses are now open, but the 1st Street beach access will be closed again in the future when the access ramp is rebuilt. It had to be taken down to get construction equipment onto the beach.