As news of flooding, downed trees and damage spreads in the wake of Hurricane Matthew, many have raised concerns for the barrier islands north of the Broad River.
Those who stayed for the storm have submitted pictures and accounts on social media to inform their neighbors on the latest damage and progress to return to normal. Residents of Harbor Island started a Facebook group specifically for information about the island post-hurricane. Pictures posted include flooded buildings, blocked roads and standing water. There was even news from one user that Little Blue, the infamous cottage on Hunting Island, was still standing after the passage of Matthew.
Kate Hines of the Fripp Island Property Owners Association said she and her team relocated to Aiken but have been receiving word and pictures from residents and safety officials, including Fripp Island Fire District Chief Josh Horton, about the conditions.
“Since I’m not there and not seeing the visual, the pictures that people are sending to us show that it could have been just so, so, so much more worse than it is,” she said. “I think we feel very lucky to have taken the brunt that we took without taking the major hit that other places have taken.”
Hines said at this point they know the south dock at the marina is gone; the steps at the boathouse restaurant have been destroyed; and there are downed trees on roads and some houses.
Sea Island Parkway on Hunting Island is closed due to a washout from flooding on the Harbor River Bridge, according to the state Department of Transportation’s website. Damage to the bridge occurred on the Harbor Island side, and the road is currently not passable.
A DOT representative said crews are on site working on the bridge to make temporary repairs so it can be reopened. The goal is to finish repairs by the end of Sunday, but the representative said there was no guarantee on when the work would be done.
Hines said residents are not allowed to return to Fripp Island until power, water and sewer were restored to the island and conditions improved.
Beaufort-Jasper Water and Sewer Authority issued a precautionary boil water advisory Saturday to Gibbs (Secession), Cane, Cat, Distant, Warsaw Vivian’s, Coosaw, Fripp, Hunting and Harbor islands. BJWSA is asking residents to boil their water before using it for drinking, cooking and washing dishes once water was turned on again for the islands. The authority’s website post says some residents might see water return sometime Sunday.
Hines said if there is anything she could emphasize to residents, it is that owners should not return to Harbor Island until it’s deemed safe, and that Chief Horton informed her that conditions are still dangerous.
“There’s so much water still floating around that the alligators are out of their habitat, and it’s just dangerous,” she said. “So we don’t want residents coming back until we give the all clear. It is just not safe yet.”