Edisto Beach battens down for Dorian
by The Press and Standard | September 4, 2019 12:00 pm
Last Updated: September 4, 2019 at 8:34 am
By CINDY CROSBY
As of Tuesday afternoon, Edisto Beach was battening down and preparing for potential impacts from Hurricane Dorian.
Since taking office in 2015, Mayor Jane Darby has led Edisto Beach fearlessly in the face of natural disasters more than once — the flood of 2015, Hurricane Matthew (2016), Irma (2017) and Florence (2018).
Now, she is bracing for Hurricane Dorian.
Although the exact track of Dorian remained unclear Tuesday afternoon, the potential for impacts to Edisto Beach remained high.
“Regardless of a direct landfall, we must prepare,” said Darby. “We cannot wait until the last minute to see what’s going to happen. We have checked all equipment and have everyone on alert. In addition, we are staging supplies and staff and have begun planning for post-storm recovery — even though we hope we don’t have to use it.”
“I think we’re going to see some effects,” said Darby. “The severity of what type of damage we see on Edisto depends on the track. Right now, the storm is moving north-northwest — and I say moving generously, because I could probably walk to the corner and back before it moved a mile. Basically, we are in a holding pattern because no one knows the exact track.”
Darby acknowledged the waiting is stressful — for not only herself, but for her staff, the first responders and the residents of Edisto Beach. “It is just very stressful, I think, for any of us,” said Darby. “We are waiting to confirm the track, so we know what steps to take. Right now, it could be 70 miles off the coast; but with just a wobble it could be 40 miles off the coast.”
“We have already had water over the dunes the last couple of days, so we have brought in pumps to be proactive,” said Darby. “We know there will impacts, we just hope they will be minimal. We know we’ll have beach damage. At this point, it’s just hope for the best.”
Memoires of Hurricane Matthew’s damage to Edisto Beach have weighed heavily on Darby’s mind during preparations for Dorian this week. “We saw major erosion, along with flooding and wind damage due to Hurricane Matthew,” said Darby. “Matthew was a much weaker storm than this one is projected to be. Matthew was a Category II and this one is expected to be a Category II or III.”
“Typically, any hurricanes that come close to Edisto come through what’s called the lane, which is just north of Puerto Rico,” explained Darby. “We’ve also been comparing it to the track of Matthew, because this is very similar, eerily similar, and we know what that did. We’re praying it makes the turn before it gets to us. The worst thing that can happen is for it to come from an angle from the South. So, it needs to turn before it gets here.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, Edisto Beach residents were under a mandatory evacuation. A curfew is in effect from 8 p.m. until 6 a.m.
“Of course, we have veterans down here who don’t scare easily,” said Darby. “They’re very independent and self-reliant. So, they, along with everybody else, are waiting to see what happens. We’ve had a good many leave who were just uncomfortable or had medical problems, which is the smart thing to do. However, most people are waiting to see what’s going to happen. I think if it looks to be very severe, you’re going to see a big flight across the causeway tomorrow. Other than that, I think a lot of people are going to ride it out.”
“We’ll be working with citizens to get homes boarded up through today, but at some point, we have to lock it down,” said Darby. “We will decide, depending on the track of the storm and the impact we’re going to face, when we’ll do a total lockdown. With the curfew, we are trying to get some relief for our security personnel, because if we do face a severe impact, they are going to need to be on call 24 hours a day.”
FACING WHAT DORIAN BRINGS
“I believe we are in better shape in advance of this storm than with Matthew,” said Darby. “Because we were due for a re-nourishment when Matthew hit, and consequently we were able to re-nourish between Matthew and Irma, we saw less impacts from Irma. So, we are staying positive and hopeful.
“However, the relentless King Tide, along with the offshore winds, have been very relentless this week,” she said. “It is chewing away at the beams and at the beach. So, we’re very concerned about our beach. Once you have a nice beach, you do want to keep it. That is our biggest fear – that we are going to have severe impacts on Edisto Beach – which is probably a reality.”