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Oct 04 2017

Irmageddon, A Near Miss

By Mimi Wood for The Island Eye News

Photos by Steve Rosamilia

Representative Mark Sanford surveys oceanfront damage in Wild Dunes.

It wasn’t Irmageddon, as forecasters initially predicted. As island residents took heed of the prognostications, and scurried about filling gas tanks, emptying store shelves of water, and battening down the hatches, the old girl took a turn west. “The beach took a major hit,” remarked IOP City Councilmember Jimmy Carroll, “but, we were lucky. We could have been Houston, or Florida.”

Debris Removal on IOP.

Tropical Storm Irma, downgraded from a Category 4 hurricane by the time she reached the shores of Sullivan’s Island and IOP, was little more than an inconvenience to many residents.

However, “I’d never seen storm surge like that,” exclaimed 13-year IOP resident Debra Mataosky, as the Intercostal Waterway, abutting her property, filled her garage with “two inches of water and sediment. Our pool looked like the Black Lagoon,” she described, yet expressed gratitude that the island “didn’t take a direct hit. “We never lost power,” remarking, “it could have been a lot worse.”

Damaged dock on IOP after Tropical Storm Irma.

Pre-planning on the city’s part was undoubtedly a key factor in restoring post-storm normalcy.

An emergency management team of city staffers and county officials met every morning for probably a week,” as Irma developed, according to Mayor Dick Cronin, in an effort to minimize impact.

Knowing we had saturated ground and standing water from recent rain, we rented pumps” to supplement those the city already owns, “positioning them in the areas we expected to be hardest hit,” days before Irma’s arrival.

Cronin went on to say “By midday Tuesday, September 12,” post-storm, “we had bids from two contractors…work began Wednesday morning.” Cronin praised the quick response of the IOP Public Works Department in removing debris from the beaches, enabling work to begin in record time. Representative Mark Sanford, surveying the island on Friday, Sept. 15,was “impressed the city acted so quickly,” Carroll related anecdotally.

Isle of Palms Administrator Linda Tucker confirms via email that “the city let a contract to Robert Collins Company to do emergency berm restoration.”

She added, “an emergency contract was awarded to Coastal Science and Engineering to survey the seven miles of beach to quantify sand loss…and to supervise the work of Collins.”

Collins will be performing “emergency scraping” along the Wild Dunes shoreline, from the Grand Pavillion to Dunecrest, and from the Seascape Villas to the Ocean Club. On the southern tip of IOP, Breach Inlet to 3rd Ave., and 5th Ave. to 6th will be scraped.

We are working with Office of Coastal and Resource Management (OCRM) to potentially add other areas at the south end of the island,” states Steven Traynum, Project Manager for Coastal Science and Engineering.

Sand is going to move from the dunes to the low tide line after even a minor or moderate storm,” Traynum elaborated, and eventually “will move back on its own.” Scraping involves manually moving the sand from the low tide line back to the dunes, thereby speeding up the healing process, and expediting recovery.

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