101217 Pawleys Island: Beach erosion from Irma equalled two previous storms
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Crews scrape up sand for new dunes after Hurricane Irma.

Pawleys Island: Beach erosion from Irma equalled two previous storms

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

Hurricane Irma last month swept as much sand off the beach on Pawleys Island as the two storms in the previous two years that came even closer to the island, according to an engineer’s report.

The island lost 180,000 cubic yards of sand to erosion during Irma, a study by Coastal Science and Engineering shows, “which blows away what we lost in previous storms,” Town Administrator Ryan Fabbri said. “I thought it was a mistake, but they assured me it was not.”

The island lost 100,000 cubic yards of sand in Hurricane Joaquin and 80,000 cubic yards in Hurricane Matthew, according to the town’s engineers. The town scraped sand from the beach to rebuild dunes after those storms. It is now pushing up more sand to rebuild the dunes after Irma. That work should be completed next week at an estimated cost of $200,000.

“The optics weren’t as bad” because there was less damage to structures, Fabbri said. But the sand loss was greater than that on Charleston County beaches also surveyed by Coastal Science. “They believe most of that sand is sitting under the water,” he said.

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