Pawleys Island residents deal with beach erosion

Pawleys Island residents deal with beach erosion

PAWLEYS ISLAND, SC (WMBF) - Tides have been slowly cutting down the dunes on the south end of Pawleys Island, with the king high tides washing ashore since Friday.

One Pawleys Island resident said the water comes up over the street when the tides are really high.

The town is trying to do its best to keep sand dunes, because if it goes the beach won't be far behind.

After October's storm, the town came up with a $150,000 emergency solution.

In March, it was approved for both state and federal officials to bring in equipment for a beach scrapping project. About two feet of sand was taken from the low tide line and pushed back to the dunes to create a natural buffer.

Town administrator Ryan Fabrri said town leaders knew it was not a permanent solution and they anticipated the high tides to cut down what was built up.

Since the king tides, residents on the south end have already seen the dunes affected. Fabrri said there are about six to seven homes on the beach that are severely impacted.

Amy Hipp has lived on Pawleys Island for about 13 years and said erosion has been an ongoing problem.

"We've lost at least six feet of sand," she said. "The beach was six feet higher 13 years ago than it is now."

Fabbri said the town council recognizes the erosion problem and are looking to residents to help come up with a long-term solution.

They are forming a beach committee that will consist of 12 volunteers who are also residents. Fabrri said they will have to learn the history of the island and then try to answer tough questions that will provide a long-term fix for the erosion.

"They will have to come up with a long-term solution to preserve the beach," he said. "They will ask questions like, 'Where does the sand come from to replenish the beach? How will we pay for it? The rate of erosion is not equal, so do we take care of the south end or the entire beach?'"

Fabrri added the committee will also have to think about monitoring and maintenance for the beach.

Lee McGahey, who has owned a home on the beach for about 17 years, said erosion is part of nature and feels what happens is beyond the town's control.

"This is not Disney World," she said. "It is a natural environment so you take your chances when you live on an island."

Fabbri said the town is doing the best it can and residents are appreciating the efforts.

Meanwhile, both the town and those living on the island hope nothing weather-wise stirs up before they can fix the erosion problem.

The beach committee anticipates meeting in early June.

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