Within an hour of high tide, I saw no water breaching the Jenkins Island causeway on U.S. 278 that links Hilton Head Island to the mainland near Squire Pope Road and Windmill Harbour.
I saw no water in the road in the low-lying causeway on Squire Pope Road on the island’s north end.
From riding around Hilton Head Plantation, tree damage looks minimal. There’s not even that much debris down, really. There was plenty of standing water in ditches, but it appeared that it would be an exception for water to reach a home.
I saw no flooding at the major drainage artery for the north end of Hilton Head Island that exits Hilton Head Plantation, crosses under U.S. 278 near the Wal-Mart Supercenter and enters Jarvis Creek. After Hurricane Matthew, this entire area flooded into what looked like a lake, knocking the Burger King restaurant out of business for months.
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The lagoons that form the backbone of the Hilton Head Plantation drainage system looked full to the brim, but not overflowing near high tide at mid-day.
The lagoons that turned the entrance to the Headlands South neighborhood into an impassible lake during Hurricane Matthew 11 months ago did not overflow Monday morning as Tropical Storm Irma hit the island.
Still, it was close.
“Bear Lake is full,” said David Mills, director of maintenance for the Hilton Head Plantation Property Owners Association. “That tributary that comes off of Port Royal Sound is crossing the road at Seabrook Drive at Spring Lake.”
Hilton Head Public Service District workers were operating two large pumps in that area by mid-afternoon.
“That’s the problem,” Mills said. “The storm surge is filling up the lagoon system. We’ve got water jetting out of our storm drains.”
He estimated the storm surge to be 4 feet above the high tide. Powerful waves in Port Royal Sound were spraying over the heavy rocks along the bluff near Dolphin Head, but were not flooding over it when the tide turned in early afternoon.
“We’ve got crews here and we’ll keep cleaning the storm drains, but it’s not going to go anywhere until that surge dies down,” Mills said.
Port Royal Sound completely submerged the sand spit to Pine Island near the Dolphin Head Recreation Area. For generations, it has been one of the most popular sites on Hilton Head Island, but the sand spit and Pine Island have been fighting a losing battle with erosion recently.
Water from Port Royal Sound flowed over the sand spit and filled the marsh and creek beyond.