Hilton Head Island crews make first push into Palmetto Hall

Crews with the Town of Hilton Head Island began clearing roadways in the Palmetto Hall community Tuesday morning.

This first push came after community residents were left on their own to clean up in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.

Town manager Steve Riley said Tuesday morning that private communities such as Palmetto Hall are typically in charge of initiating their own post-storm cleanup.

But, he said, "apparently Palmetto Hall had no private resources" for tree removal.

An email sent to residents by the neighbothood property owners association late Monday night said, “Some communities have been able to open the main arteries to their residents.”

“They have assets and employees within the community to do this work,” the email said. “This is not the case in Palmetto Hall.”

The POA indicated that it expects the town to receive federal funds to help with cleanup.

The association’s email said, “It is not financially prudent to totally forgo the staggering sums of (Federal Emergency Management Agency) money that clearing and debris removal will cost Palmetto Hall just to be expedient.”

Beaufort County “employees will be performing a quick assessment and inventory of damage to all structures and improvements for FEMA declaration and overall damage assessments,” according to a Tuesday morning county news release.

Riley said there was some confusion between town officials and neighborhood residents about how debris cleanup would work after the storm.

“Our fist priority is public roads,” he said.

But town crews are making a “first push” into Palmetto Hall to “just cut our way through the streets and open up trails,” Riley said.

“We will get as far we can before (residents) start showing up” when the island-wide evacuation is lifted, he said.

Hilton Head Island residents are expected to be allowed into their neighborhoods at 3 p.m. Tuesday.

But Hilton Head Mayor David Bennett posted on his Facebook page Monday night that some neighborhoods might restrict residents, depending on local conditions.