Lowcountry Islands battling beach erosion and rip currents

Today News 2 checked out both Folly Beach and Isle of Palms to find out what issues these local islands are having in this weather. The biggest problems: rip currents and erosion.

Folly Beach Fire Department Chief Andrew Gilreath says, “Anytime there’s this much rain and this much increase in wave action, and things like that, absolutely, there’s beach erosion. So that something that we’re going to be monitoring as well as well.”

Gretchen Tate, a surfer out on Folly Beach, says, “You’re seeing a lot of the effects of a hurricane, and you’re seeing high coastal erosion, it looks like there’s one at turtles nest left down on the beach, so who knows what will happen to that. But the tide’s about to be high, it’s coming up, waves, currents. I think the increase in tidal erosion is something you’re going to see as a result from this.”

And this is a problem Isle of Palms is already fighting, even without severe weather.

Isle of Palms Mayor Dick Cronin says, “We have erosion on the eastern end of the island, so there’s condos that are now going to have to be protected with sandbags. We have about 12 homes that are being protected with sandbags. We had significant erosion actually on the other end of the island where the primary dune is eroded away.”

We saw flooding on the roadways on both Folly and IOP. Mayor Cronin says as the tide comes in and more rain falls, it will only get worse.

Cronin says, “That’s a significant amount of water. Now we’re on a barrier island, that’s a sandy soil, so it does except a lot of water but even then it moves we got flooded.”

This weather is also causing high surf and strong rip currents out in the ocean. While this isn’t ideal for swimmers, surfers say it’s the best time to catch some waves.

Capers Carroll, a Folly Beach surfer, says, “Yeah, it’s fun. We’ve been out here for a couple hours and it’s just perfect, couldn’t ask for anything better.”

The Washout on Folly Beach was filled with surfers of all ages. Many of them told us with work or school canceled, they were excited to hit the water. However, the Fire Department does not recommend swimming in these conditions.

Chief Gilreath says, “You know, obviously, we don’t recommend it. On the same token, surfers are usually pretty experienced and used to this kind of thing. I highly suggest they don’t do it alone, and they are with other people so that way if there is an issue they can either have help on scene or someone getting a hold of us so we can help them and take care of things.”

The surfers tell News 2 they could feel that rip current and would ride to shore much further down the coast than they started.

Tate says, “The currents aren’t as strong as I thought they’d be, knowing how big the swell is, but there’s a nice steady little current moving us down the beach.”

Carroll says, “We started like an avenue down and you end up like five avenues down in 10-15 minutes so you just got to keep on walking back.”

And they say while they like seeing other surfers out enjoying the weather, a crowded ocean makes it more dangerous.

One surfer, Winslow Carroll says, “Definitely the most dangerous part is just the amount of people. Just so, you know, if you’re just starting off you just got a watch out and try not to get run over out there because there’s just so many people in one little spot.”

The surfers say there more than 100 people out at the Washout on Friday.


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