Editorials

Editorial: Nature's lessons hit home around county

Chairs sit submerged on the outside patio at Hudson's Seafood on Hilton Head Island after a king tide the morning of Oct. 28. Andrew Carmines, the restaurant's owner, says the day's high tides were not nearly as bad as the previous morning, where the water came into the room but receded in time for lunch.
Chairs sit submerged on the outside patio at Hudson's Seafood on Hilton Head Island after a king tide the morning of Oct. 28. Andrew Carmines, the restaurant's owner, says the day's high tides were not nearly as bad as the previous morning, where the water came into the room but receded in time for lunch. dmartin@islandpacket.coml

Extraordinarily high tides push saltwater over seawalls.

Flooding occurs from saturating rains.

Offshore storms send waves gouging into soft sand dunes.

Trees are moved around like Tinker Toys by the sea.

A town government braces for a $21 million beach nourishment project to pump 2 million cubic yards of sand ashore.

Residents scramble to armor the shoreline in front of their homes.

All of this may sound like the plagues of Egypt, but it is not. It has come to pass in Beaufort County in recent days.

The lesson is this: The power of water always wins. Mankind must accept that and move out of harm's way. Whether the policy is set in Columbia, Beaufort County or Washington, D.C., the expectation should never be that mankind will overpower nature in the watery soup of the Lowcountry.

Wetlands that give rainfall a safe place to go cannot be bulldozed and filled with homes.

Armoring the oceanfront is a natural reaction when waves gobble sand and lap at the door. But when one area is armored, the problem only moves next door. The waves will always win.

South Carolina many years ago put into law a progressive policy of moving development back from the shoreline and limiting hard surfaces. That policy must not be chiseled away by people foolish enough to think they can outwit and overpower Mother Nature.

The lesser of all the evils is the beach nourishment that the Town of Hilton Head Island keeps doing. It is expensive. It cannot be done to satisfy all parties, both the vacationing families and the migrating shorebirds. And sand constantly moves, both offshore and along the beach.

Hilton Head can afford to maintain its No. 1 asset because of a 2 percent tax on overnight lodging. Remember that the beach preservation fee had to be fought for in court and appreciate that governments must sometimes be willing to duke it out in court to preserve natural assets.

But in the end, Beaufort County residents must remember that it is they, not the rising tides and crashing waves, that can be controlled.

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