GEORGETOWN COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - The sight of broken beach accesses and walkovers has been the norm since Hurricane Matthew hit last October. A large beach project to repair what the hurricane left in pieces is taking longer than expected. The May completion date for beach access and walkover repairs seems impossible for beach accesses damaged in Georgetown County.
"Nearly all of our (beach accesses) were damaged," Georgetown Co. Capital Projects Engineer Art Baker said. "We've received some calls asking the schedule, and most people understand it's taking a little while to get all of them done since there were so many damaged."
The county suffered major damage from Hurricane Matthew. Georgetown County has 64 beach accesses, and 54 were damaged or destroyed when the hurricane plowed through. The goal was to have all even-numbered accesses done by Easter, and all access repairs and replacements completed by the end of May. Baker said all South Litchfield accesses should be finished by the end of this week. North Litchfield accesses have a finish date of the end of May. Baker said even-numbered beach accesses in Garden City are finished, so people have access. The county is still working on the odd-numbered accesses.
The new completion date for the entire project is the end of June, according to Baker. He said it's for good reason.
Baker said the delay won't cost the county more money. The entire project costs a little over $400,000. The Federal Emergency Management Association, FEMA, is covering 75 percent of the cost.
Crews worked hard on the beach Thursday to finish accesses in South Litchfield. Baker said much of the delay is because the county's emergency and handicapped beach accesses took longer to fix than expected. But, most of the delay is due to unexpected replacements and new modifications to beach accesses required by the county. Baker said the accesses come with new design features, more posts and breakaway stairs. Baker explained how the new stairs feature works.
"Pin-connected, so to speak, at the stairs. In a storm surge they can break away without destroying the entire walkway," he said. This new feature can save the county thousands down the road. Baker said he's never seen so many beach accesses damaged.
Georgetown County isn't the only area delayed on beach access work. North Myrtle Beach's walkover project was also supposed to be done by now. However, North Myrtle Beach spokesman Pat Dowling said crews are still working on beach accesses damaged by the hurricane as well. No word on when it's expected to be complete.