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Hurricane Irma damaged local beaches. Here's how much it will take to fix them

Alycia Carter ducks behind Trenton Friedman as waves spray over the dunes at Garden City Beach. The remnants of Hurricane Irma begins to batter Garden City Beach on Monday morning. Sept. 11, 2017
Alycia Carter ducks behind Trenton Friedman as waves spray over the dunes at Garden City Beach. The remnants of Hurricane Irma begins to batter Garden City Beach on Monday morning. Sept. 11, 2017 jlee@thesunnews.com

The Myrtle Beach Shore Protection Program received an extra $29 million in federal funding to repair beachfronts following Hurricane Irma, which hit the Atlantic Coast in September.

The announced additional funding was awarded through the Army Corps of Engineers, following advocacy by state and local politicians. The shoreline construction programs may start this summer in Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach, Garden City and Surfside Beach, according to an Horry County news release.

Sarah Corbett, public affairs specialist for the Army Corps of Engineers, said once the Corps received the funding in the next few weeks, it will find a contractor who will create a timetable for the projects.

Hurricane Irma washed away more than 600,000 cubic yards of sand resulting in $6 million in damages. The flooding and winds caused by major storms can cause sand to wash away, shifting shorelines, which can greatly affect the stability of buildings and homes near the coastline.

Parts of the beach are eroding away as water levels continue to rise.

Horry County Commissioner Chairman Mark Lazarus advocated for the funding alongside federal representatives from South Carolina in order to make sure the coastline continues to be an economic driver in the region following the natural disaster.

“I would like to thank all of our state and local partners that assisted in this effort to secure crucial federal funding for these repairs,” Lazarus said in the release. "This project is important for sustaining the local economy and preserving our incredible beaches.”

The Shore Protection Program replenishes sand periodically, as well as ensuring limited damage to a coastline that brings in 17.9 million visitors each year. The program is funded primarily by federal dollars, with 35 percent coming from the state and local government. In cases of emergencies, 100 percent of funding comes from the state.

Rep. Tom Rice in a news release said, "Our beaches are the lifeblood of our coastal economy and this funding is critical to their prosperity."

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