Beaufort News

How did the heavy rains, high tides affect Beaufort County?

Staff reports

Video: On Hilton Head beaches, Alljoy Beach, extremely high tides

Residents across from Alljoy Beach in Bluffton reported Monday that the May River rose all the way to their lawns over the weekend. On Hilton Head, one beach supervisor says the tide was as high as she's seen, noting that it overtook dunes on Nort
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Residents across from Alljoy Beach in Bluffton reported Monday that the May River rose all the way to their lawns over the weekend. On Hilton Head, one beach supervisor says the tide was as high as she's seen, noting that it overtook dunes on Nort

While Beaufort County was largely untouched by the heavy rains and coastal flooding that hammered the rest of the state, there were some local effects:

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Elevated tides brought on by the storm caused large dunes in the North Forest Beach area to severely erode over the weekend, with one resident calling it the worst erosion he'd seen.

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Hilton Head Island resident John Strother said large dunes near Heron Street -- about 11 to 13 feet tall -- lost between 10 and 20 feet of sand over the weekend. Water laps at the dunes during high tide and typically makes small cuts into the dune, but nothing like Strother saw Sunday afternoon.

"In the three beach renourishments I've been here for, it's the biggest one day loss I've seen," he said.

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Strother took a photo of the erosion he saw and sent it in to Hilton Head town officials Monday morning, but said he had not yet heard from them.

Town of Hilton Head director of public projects and facilities Scott Liggett said he completed an initial assessment of the town's beaches Monday morning, find three areas that primarily stood out with moderate to severe erosion: North Forest Beach, the northern parts of Palmetto Dunes, and Port Royal Plantation's shoreline along Port Royal Sound.

In certain areas like North Forest Beach, the dunes have been scarped, leaving a steep slope up to the full height of the dune, he said. In other areas, private walkways to the beach dropped between two and four feet from erosion.

Liggett said the town would continue to monitor erosion, but said it was too early to say whether an emergency response is needed.

Coincidentally, the town recently started the process of awarding a beach renourishment contract; bidding on the contract began Wednesday. Liggett said the response to the erosion may just be implemented in the new contract.

He added that the erosion seen over the weekend was a likely sign that the previous renourishment was reaching the end of its lifespan.

"It reinforces the path we are on to rebuild the beaches," he said.

Sunday morning footage shows overnight washover of Port Royal Sound into the marsh at the sand spit to Pine Island at Dolphin Head in Hilton Head Plantation.


Other than some standing water in low areas, Beaufort appears to have been spared any significant effects of the rain and unusual tides.

Public works director Lamar Taylor said the department received no calls during the weekend about anyone affected by flooding. Crews worked last week ensuring drains were open and pipes clear and monitored drainage conditions during the weekend, he said.

"Obviously we had some high water in low areas, which we can't control, because of the tide," Taylor said. "But nothing has really impacted folks that they felt threatened."


Town officials prepped their stormwater system to allow for anticipated extra volume, town manager Van Willis said, but otherwise little out of the ordinary.

"This is good because it allows a mixing of salt with the freshwater, which helps get rid of some of the growth that can choke a (retention) pond," Willis said in an email.

The parking lot off of 11th Street by the town's shrimp docks had to be pumped over the weekend.

Willis said the area's sandy soil allows the town to drain quickly.


The phones at the Hunting Island State Park office stayed busy Monday as employees updated visitors on conditions and processed campers' refunds after high tides and heavy rains pummeled the island.

The park has standing water throughout and sustained beach erosion, park manager Daniel Gambrell said. Erosion began with the unusually high tides during the last week and continued with the heavy rains, Gambrell said.

He said park officials won't know the extent of the damage until water recedes and there is time to assess.

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"We'll continue to have cleanup for days now to try to get the park back in shape," Gambrell said.

Park rangers told campers what was ahead before the flooding began. Reservations are being moved to future dates.

Some campers remained in the mostly flooded campground. Half of the road was flooded leading to the campground entrance.

Rangers are working to clear debris from roadways and other areas on the island.

Parts of the north beach parking lot was under water Monday morning, water blocked pathways to restrooms just off the beach and there was standing water around the picnic area and gift shop near the lighthouse.

The park remains open.


Parts of Fripp Island flooded over the weekend.

Photos posted by Whit Suber on the Facebook page on Saturday showed the crab dock and marina parking lot under water and extensive flooding on Wahoo Drive and Marlin Drive covering yards, driveways, and a boardwalk.

The page, posted 12 hours ago, said that all roads on the island were passable and the bridge to Fripp Island was clear.

In a YouTube video Suber posted Sunday showing an aerial view of the island, he said the area had not been hit hard and that water was receding in some areas.

"If you're in a low-lying area, one of those areas suceptible to having water in your garage or basement, you probably have it," Suber said in a separate video updating out-of-town property owners.

Follow reporter Stephen Fastenau at
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