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The Latest: Gov. Lifts Barrier Island Evacuation Order, Cleanup Begins

September 12, 2017 - Posted in This Week in South Carolina by G. Jackson

The latest on now Tropical Storm Irma's effects in South Carolina (all times local):

4 p.m.

BEAUFORT -- Betsy Binette, who owns a crossfit gym with her husband Ted, was getting her workout in Tuesday. She squatted and pushed heavy chunks of pine tree into a pile after Ted sawed them up. The tree just missed their rental property on Bonaire Circle North and took down some power lines with it. 

“I know there were some trees down, some powerlines we just got power back on this road less than two hours ago,” Betsy said. “We didn’t stay in the neighborhood. We went down to our gym just because of all the big trees, they wreak havoc. This is the only one we lost this year.”

The property is only five miles northwest of Parris Island, where a gust of 76 mph from Tropical Storm Irma was recorded Monday.

Down the street from the Binette’s property was a home with three trees down.

A birch fell onto a cedar tree, preventing it from hitting a mobile home, and bent every limb as it came to rest on the tree. A sycamore, with leaves already turning, was also uprooted in the front yard.

The homeowner, who wished not to be identified, is a Port Royal Police officer who said he got off duty Tuesday morning to this mess in front of and on his second home.

“I have power, I have internet and I have three trees on my house,” he said.

A tree service will take away the trees on Wednesday he said and he has no intention on replanting.

12 p.m.

EDISTO BEACH – Standing on three feet of sand that covered Palmetto Boulevard, Mayor Jane Darby was in good spirits as she announced limited storm damage and plans to allow property owners to return later in the day.

“[Tropical Storm] Irma was a much nicer person than [Hurricane] Matthew,” Darby told press that had gathered on the newly formed beach. “We had built berms out on the beach and that allowed us to not have so much damage this time. They did what they were designed to do.”

The sand covered several blocks and filled some beach front driveways. Just feet from the press gaggle, a Cadillac SUV looked like it got caught in quicksand that stopped near the top of its tires. 

Darby said the sand was not to the depth or quantity as it was last October after Matthew and there was little property damage as well. Thanks to lessons learned last year, Darby expects a shorter recovery time.

“We opened back up in February we felt like we were at full a compliance before the tourist season started, which was the end of May,” Darby said. “I think we will have a much less period of construction and I don’t think the magnitude of it will be so great.”

It cost $17 million to renourish the beach after Matthew displaced some 155,000 cubic yards of sand. Money came from Colleton County, the state Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism and the Federal Emergency Management Agency contributed to the effort, which includes Edisto Beach State Park. The town chipped in $3 million, which came from tourism taxes.

The sand on Palmetto Blvd. will be pushed back onto the beach. 

As of 2 p.m., homeowners, up to two people per business and property rental agency are allowed to return to the island in one vehicle. Identification and proof of residency is required since access to the area is limited.

Water lines are being prepared and Darby said residents need to conserve water and sewage usage at this time.

A tornado possibly touched down near the state park, Darby said, but wasn’t able to confirm.

 

11:15 a.m.

WEST COLUMBIA -- Two people died in South Carolina on Monday as a result of the hazardous weather Tropical Storm Irma brought, state authorities confirmed.

Public Safety Director Leroy Smith said Zhen Tain, 21, died in the crash on Interstate 77 east of Columbia Monday afternoon. Smith said Tain, whose vehicle registered in Florida, was driving too fast for the wet conditions.

The Abbeville County Coroner confirmed on Monday that Charles Saxon, 57, died in Calhoun Falls while he was cleaning up debris and was killed by a limb. 

The National Weather Service said the highest wind gust from Irma in the state was 76 mph on Parris Island. Other gusts included 72 mph on Folly Beach, 68 mph on Sullivan's Island, and 66 mph in Beaufort.

The Office of Regulatory Staff reports 197,550 power outages across the state, with crews working around the clock to fix the outages. Crews are coming from as far away as Arkansas to assist with the effort.

S.C. Department of Transportation Secretary Christy Hall said there is one to two feet of sand on Palmetto Blvd. in the town of Edisto Beach for about 500 feet. Statewide there are 162 road closures in 22 counties.

9:45 a.m.

WEST COLUMBIA -- According to the S.C. Department of Social Services, 18 shelters remain open in the state with 805 occupants. Shelters will begin closing today as residents start returning to their homes.

9:15 a.m.

WEST COLUMBIA -- Gov. Henry McMaster has lifted the evacuation order for the several barrier islands closed due to Tropical Storm Irma, which swept through the state on Monday.

Hilton Head, Daufuskie, Tulifinny, and Knowles islands are open for re-entry.

Access is restricted on Harbour, Hunting and Fripp islands along with Edisto Beach. Access is currently for first responders.

 

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