Hurricane Irma impacts surge onto Daniel Island
Pierce Street resident Tyson Halsey watched with his family as the water in the creek and marsh behind his home began rising on Monday as the impacts of Hurricane Irma descended onto Daniel Island.
“I was watching it very closely,” said Halsey. “…I happened to go to engineering school and I am a numbers guy. I was trying to assess what the risks were…I think had it gone 3 or 4 feet higher, it could have gone into the bottom of our house.”
Down the street from the Halsey home, Bill Power eyed the encroaching waters from Raven’s Creek as they pushed over the shoreline into Barfield Park across from his house. The trails within the park soon disappeared as the creek continued to surge.
“I was more concerned with the tidal water than the rain,” said Power, who lives on Barfield Street. “…It was as high as I’ve ever seen it.”
“We lost one tree and the water came up really high,” added Kay Leigh, who lives along Beresford Creek in Codner’s Ferry Park. “Highest water we’ve ever seen in 18 years on Daniel Island!”
In Daniel Island Park, Kendell Sutterlin and her family watched as Beresford Creek raged behind their home.
“The power of Hurricane Irma was incredible,” said Sutterlin. “I cannot get over the white caps in Beresford Creek, the marsh was completely covered by water. I honestly did not expect this amount of water because the storm was so far to our west, we were very lucky.”
Along with rising flood waters and torrential rain, tropical storm force winds blasted through the community as Hurricane Irma’s far-reaching bands pummeled the Charleston area.
“Because the tropical storm hit at high tide, this was the greatest storm surge we have seen on Daniel Island,” said Jane Baker, vice president of community services for the Daniel Island Property Owners Association.
The force of the surging tide was so strong that it ripped away a portion of the dock on the Wando River near Children’s Park, according to Baker, as water crashed over the shoreline there. A large chunk of the boardwalk along the trail from the park to the Family Circle Tennis Center was also damaged, making the pathway inaccessible. On Bellinger Island, where a refurbishment project was recently completed, Beresford Creek overflowed its banks, completely covering the walkway and small bridge from Daniel Island.
“Initial inspections indicate, after the water receded, that the improvements to Bellinger and Beresford Creek Boat Landing held up well,” said Baker on Tuesday. “We have our engineer confirming these findings. There are a couple of downed trees that will need to be removed. It is accessible now.”
As for the dock and boardwalk near Children’s Park, Baker says both of those assets are managed by the City of Charleston, so it is not known as of yet when they will be repaired.
“As these areas are still under the City’s control, I do not have an estimation for repair at this point,” she added. “City crews were on site (Tuesday) morning doing initial inspections.”
Island yards, commons areas and streets were littered with tree branches and other debris during the storm - and some streets were rendered temporarily impassable due to downed trees. But many on Daniel Island were breathing a sigh of relief by late Monday afternoon, when it appeared the worst of the storm was over - and that the damage appeared to be minimal.
“I think quite frankly as a homeowner and realtor I am very pleased with the way Daniel Island handles water,” added Power. “It’s a credit to the engineers and designers who laid this island out…I think the island did extremely well.”
Staff members with the City of Charleston began recovery efforts throughout the city at daybreak on Tuesday, according to a press release.
“Thankfully, we appear to have come through this storm with no loss of life or serious injury,” said Mayor John Tecklenburg. “That’s a real blessing. Now, our job is to move forward with recovery efforts and get our city back to normal for our residents as quickly as possible.”
Overall, a massive relief effort was undertaken on Monday in South Carolina to handle storm-related concerns. According to a press release from the office of Governor Henry McMaster, more than 2,000 maintenance personnel from the S.C. Department of Transportation were on duty clearing roads. Also joining emergency responders were 746 National Guardsmen and 101 State Troopers. There were a total of 164 road closures statewide during the storm, 25 open shelters, 25 government offices closed, and 33 school districts closed (including Berkeley County Schools). Additionally, SCE&G reported more than 140,000 power outages across the state with the largest number of outages concentrated Charleston, Beaufort, Berkeley, Lexington and Richland Counties. There were no outages reported on Daniel Island.