Beach house owners concerned over lack of sand dunes ahead of Irma

Beach house owners concerned over lack of sand dunes ahead of Irma

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Hurricane Irma's potential impact along the coast is causing concern for some beach house owners.

Those who live in Garden City are especially concerned because of the lack of sand dunes along a stretch of homes on Waccamaw Drive and Yacca Avenue.

Homeowner James Varcadipane expressed his concern ahead of the hurricane. He said not many people live in the homes all year round, but those who do not rent the homes would like to see sand dunes to help protect their property.

The fear is setting in of what could happen.

"Due to the fact that Hugo took our house away - the whole first floor was gone - and when Matthew came through, we had six-foot dunes right in the street here in front of the house. Everything just washed away," Varcadipane said. "You know, when you have your items, your lifelong items, in a house and one day the water comes up and washed everything away and you lose pictures of your kids when they were children, it's devastating. I understand it's a picture but it's your children and that's gone. Maybe your son made you a picture when he was in first grade and gave it to you as a gift and it's gone."

Varcadipane said he and his girlfriend have reach out to Georgetown County for help, but have not had any luck.

"There were two projects in the area that have been stalled. Their goal was to build protection back up after Matthew so there would plenty of time, but getting beach permits on a state and federal level is a long process, so no work can be done until the storm system clears out," said Jackie Broach, public information officer for Georgetown County.

Varcadipane's neighbors, who do live along the ocean even in normal conditions, will see water come up underneath their house.

"It's not a matter of what I see. The ocean, it's beautiful. It's a great place to live; It's paradise," he said. "What I want to see is sand dunes to protect my property."

One home up the street in Surfside Beach is already completely boarded up and prepped. A total of 18 windows throughout the house and the patio will be secure along Fifth Avenue North and Ocean Boulevard.

The upper level is ready and the third level already has hurricane-proof, high-impact glass. With 25 years of experience, Ronnie Massie, a private contractor from Charlotte, North Carolina, said with no guarantee from Irma and being at the peak of hurricane season, no one should gamble with Mother Nature.

Massie notes that the first step in home preparation is the windows.

"That way there is no infiltration from the wind. It's just one solid exterior wall and it will shield more of the house," he said. "If the windows get broken out, what it does is create a vacuum inside the home and what it will do is just implode the home."

For Massie, the memories of Hurricane Matthew remain far too close.

"The fact that we had about six to eight inches of water and had to have it all repaired, we lost all the downstairs furniture and everything, so this is one reason we are trying to get a jump start and beat Mother Nature," he said.

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