EDISTO BEACH, S.C. (WCBD) – Dozens of residents along the small South Carolina beach community of Edisto Island returned home on Tuesday to inspect the damage left by Tropical Storm Irma.
At first glance, Mayor Jane Darby said the early details of Irma’s destruction showed most of the homes and businesses in the area were largely spared from the catastrophe many had feared. She was relieved that Edisto Beach, which has struggled to rebuild after Hurricane Matthew hit it hard last October, didn’t bear the worst of the storm.
“We are very grateful that Irma was a much nicer person than Matthew,” Darby said. ”This will be a much easier recovery.”
The ocean pushed past the dunes and onto surface streets, although further inland there was less damage. The power was knocked out and forceful winds and heavy rains from Irma mainly affected Edisto’s main street, Palmetto Boulevard, where the bulk of the extra sand was dumped.
Most residents and visitors on the beach evacuated before the storm, according to officials, and only a few holdouts remained behind. A limited number of residents and business owners were able to return by 2 p.m. Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the repair effort for the beach, due to sand washing up inland, will take place over the next few months. Those who call Edisto home are hopeful it will return the beach to what it looked like before the storm.
“A heartbreaker that we had to deal with it all again,” said Stephanie Renner, a resident who decided not to evacuate. “The tough part for those of us who live here is the beach, but that’s okay.”
Renner and her husband helped friends clear debris and checked in on her neighbors that experienced storm damage in the past.
“It’s just been amazing for me to see how many people are helping each other,” Renner said. ‘“It’s a tight community.”
Police Chief George Brothers monitored any residents that decided to stick it out, despite the evacuation orders, and said he knocked on doors to check on residents holding back.
“Most of the damage this time is from water rather than wind,” Brothers said. “We don’t have a house blown down like we did last year, but how much structural damage it might have caused is unknown. They are working on damage assessments right now.”