Pawleys Island resident digging out after storm surge pushes dunes into streets

Pawleys Island resident digging out after storm surge pushes dunes into streets

PAWLEYS ISLAND, SC (WMBF) - Residents of Pawleys Island were able to get back into their homes Monday and Tuesday, however the access has been limited. Property owners have to show identification to authorities to enter the island.

That precaution is in place because much of the area is still covered with debris and sand.

Springs Avenue on the south end of the island has lost most of its dunes. The storm surge from Hurricane Matthew pushed the sand under homes and into the roadway.

However, the Mayor of the town says he is grateful those dunes were there to help protect properties on Pawleys Island.

"My belief is that if those dunes had not been here we would have lost houses," Mayor Bill Otis said.

Most houses on the island just sustained damage to their ground levels. Paddle boards, wood, and other items stored in sheds below the homes were seen scattered around the area.

"This is quite a mess," Otis said.

One home on Atlantic Avenue was destroyed by a fire during Hurricane Matthew.

The fire started early Saturday morning, around 5 or 6 am, according to Midway Fire Rescue Chief Doug Eggiman. He believed one of the residents who did not evacuate from Pawleys Island spotted the fire and called for help.

When fire crews arrived, the house was fully involved and the wind was blowing the embers, putting the houses on either side at risk.

When the initial call came in, crews first verified the wind speed with dispatch before responding. The wind was blowing between 20 to 30 miles per hour.  Midway Fire Rescue does not respond when sustained winds reach 50 mph because doing so is not safe. Also crews can not raise their ladder when wind speeds are over 35 mph, so they responded with hoses and hand lines.

Crews stayed on scene as long as they felt comfortable. They did knock down the fire and returned to the scene to put out hot spots when conditions improved.

No word on the cause.

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