Beach renourishment along the Grand Strand was put on hold for Hurricane Florence, but officials are working to resume the process later this week.
The $34 million project is expected to be done by the original completion date, Dec. 15, according to Sean McBride, public affairs specialist with the United States Army Corps of Engineers. McBride said the contractor, Great Lakes Dredge and Dock, will pick up where they left off, with work beginning right before the City of Myrtle Beach.
While Hurricane Florence did not impact the Grand Strand like expected, storm surge and higher water levels did affect the beachfront.
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“With that water coming in, it had to have taken a lot of sand out,” Surfside Beach Mayor Bob Childs said. “There’s no way in the world all that water could have come in and not affected it in any way.”
But work on the project depends on surveys, which will be complete Tuesday and Wednesday. To survey the beach, Army Corps officials go out in an ATV and use sonar equipment to measure how much sand needs to be replaced on the beaches.
Officials will also survey Garden City and Surfside, which were completed prior to the storm to see if the contractor needs to redo any work.
McBride said officials completed the process before the storm, making the data easy to compare to see how much damage Florence brought to the Grand Strand.
Work halted early last week, forcing officials to move about 25,000 feet of pipe, five to six loaders and two dredges — boats offshore that pump sand onto the beach — to safe locations. The dredges were moved to the Charleston Harbor, McBride said.
“The plan for the project going forward would be to pick up where they left off and continue on,” McBride said. “In terms of the area that’s already been done, we don’t know at this point whether or not there were any impacts or if anything needs to be adjusted so we’ll be able to figure that out after we do the surveys.”
The work began Aug. 1 on the south strand, right at the peak of hurricane season. According to McBride, this isn’t always the case, but funding from the government and dredges were available to start work.
In early September, Lt. Col. Jeff Palazzini, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Charleston district, said dredges were hard to come by as they work to renourish beaches across the country that were impacted by hurricanes.
“We do work weather delays and mechanical delays into the schedule so a delay like this, as long as we don’t have any additional delays, we’re still hoping that we can get it done because they were actually ahead of schedule beforehand, so we’re still hoping to have it done by Dec. 15,” McBride said.
How were the Grand Strand beaches impacted by Florence?
According to Myrtle Beach spokesman Mark Kruea, beaches in the city were not greatly impacted by Florence.
“We’re out of the prime season, we have all fall and winter to get this work done before the next beach season, so that’s not a real concern at this point I don’t think,” Kruea said.
City officials are still assessing the beaches at this time, Kruea said. Work was originally expected to begin in Myrtle Beach on Aug. 30 and run through Nov. 11.
In North Myrtle Beach, spokesman Pat Dowling said the dunes were not affected by the storm, but they are “looking forward” to beach renourishment moving to the north strand.
Work was originally scheduled to start Oct. 9 through Dec. 8.
In Surfside Beach, Childs said erosion was worse on the north end of the town than the south.
“If you recall, same thing happened last year, except this was about four days later,” Childs said, remembering Hurricane Irma. “We had a hurricane early September last year after they did it, now we got another one.”