GEORGETOWN COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Many beach accesses throughout Georgetown County and North Myrtle Beach still need work to be used after damage from Hurricane Matthew. The good news is the city and county are working hard to have them fixed by May and April, respectively.
FEMA has visited both Georgetown County and North Myrtle Beach to look at the damage done to the beach, dune walkovers and beach accesses. FEMA will reimburse the city and county for 75 percent of the repair costs, according to representatives from North Myrtle Beach and Georgetown County. Georgetown County engineer Art Baker oversees the project and said repairs will cost a little more than $400,000. Baker said work started in February on all even numbered beach accesses in Garden City. Crews are working their way down to Litchfield before beginning construction on the odd-numbered beach accesses.
In North Myrtle Beach, city spokesman Pat Dowling said 25 damaged beach accesses will be repaired for $129,000. Work is supposed to begin next week, with hopes of finishing by May 15. However, the city had hoped to have the walkovers done by May 15. Dowling said the bid contract included that work be finished within 60 days. He explains why beach accesses are just now getting attention.
"When you have a situation like a hurricane and you have damage...a good example is the debris collection...you just don't go out and collect it yourself immediately...you have to wait, bring in FEMA, set up contracts, make sure you document everything so FEMA can reimburse you for that labor. You don't want to go and have tax increases to recover from a hurricane if FEMA help is available to you," Dowling said.
The bid contract has not yet been signed.
Handicapped dune walkovers can cost as much as $25,000, Dowling said. Many of the damaged walkovers are in the Cherry Grove area, where North Myrtle Beach was hit hardest. Dowling said the city has about 270 dune walkovers.
Georgetown County has 66 beach accesses, according to county spokeswoman Jackie Broach. She said the county had to use resources for other hurricane repairs first, and recently made it to the dune walkovers. She said about 55 of the walkovers have been damaged. Baker said 30 percent of them have been repaired so far.
Baker said the county is looking at options now to work on the dunes. He said the best option for consideration is sand fencing. It's cost-efficient because small pieces of wood will catch the sand and build dunes over time. Stainless steel materials will also be used to repair the walkovers, with hopes to make them more durable next time a hurricane hits.
Broach said the county has had issues with people ignoring caution tape precautions on damaged walkovers. People are advised to stay clear of damaged walkovers.
"People just kind of move those barricades...they take down the tape and just go utilize them anyway. It's been constantly trying to keep up with that...those aren't structurally safe, they're not structurally sound so we just encourage everyone to heed that warning until we can get them fixed," she said. Georgetown County plans to have work completed by Easter, April 16th.