Dozens of homes in Sea Pines remain at risk for damage following Hurricane Matthew and likely will stay exposed into the 2017 hurricane season, Hilton Head Island officials say.
Town officials had hoped that the contractor hired to do its island-wide renourishment project would stay or at least come back to replace the estimated 250,000 cubic yards of sand that washed away with storm surges along the mile stretch on South Beach.
Those hopes were lost this week as Weeks Marine Inc. packed up its equipment to move onto its next job.
“It is disappointing, but we are not ready to start the job, and they have other jobs they need to get to,” town manager Steve Riley said Wednesday. “Just like everyone was screaming here when they were late, somewhere else people are screaming and yelling because they are late there.”
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A $20.7 million island-wide renourishment project was set to be completed in October but was delayed by Tropical Storm Hermine and Hurricane Matthew. It was completed at the end of last month but didn’t include South Beach.
Riley said the town is waiting for a permit from the state to complete the renourishment along South Beach, adding it could be spring before the permit is approved.
Scott Liggett, the town’s director of public projects and facilities and chief engineer, said Wednesday the permit might be approved sooner. He said the request is to modify the island-wide renourishment project just completed.
“We are hoping for a relatively quick turn-around since it is a modification,” he said.
Regardless, it is likely that the fix to the beach will not come for months. Riley said a bid process would have to occur following the permit approval.
“This isn’t something where you show up with a hammer and nails tomorrow,” Riley said. “There are a limited number of contractors out there who can do this. There is a whole scheduling process. It will take awhile, but I don’t know how long.”
Given that, homeowners along the stretch of South Beach likely will see at least a portion of the next hurricane season, which officially runs from June 1 through Nov. 30, before anything changes, Riley said.
Emergency permits granted earlier by the state allowed the town to push sand around the houses, but it is only a temporary fix, Liggett said.
“It will protect from a relatively modest event — a three- to five-year event,” he said. “It is less than the beach conditions that we would desire.”