Disaster recovery mostly finished up in Hilton Head Island - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Disaster recovery mostly finished up in Hilton Head Island

(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)

The town of Hilton Head is saying "bring on the tourists" as it puts the finishing touches on its disaster recovery.

Dozens of bike pathways have reopened and several town parks are up and running. But there are still a few areas in need of TLC after Hurricane Matthew left devastating and lingering impacts.

South Beach in Sea Pines, which was one of the hardest hit areas when we talk about debris and beach erosion.

In fact, things are much different than they were when we were out here just a few weeks after the storm. An emergency sand barrier was put in place to protect residents from weather events that might have occurred in the meantime.

But right now the town is looking at a permanent solution for these homeowners, while trying to figure out who will get the bill.

"It has never been pushed as far landward as it did after the storm," said Scott Liggett, Director of Public Projects, Hilton Head Island. "We did see changes elsewhere on the island certainly, but just about in every other area those changes are in the conditions of our prior survey work but we’ve never seen conditions like this on the south end."

So the town is looking into a re-nourishment project for that stretch of beach in Sea Pines. 

"Overall the project is expected to be relatively short in duration about 6-7 weeks or so start to finish," said Liggett.

The town acknowledges the need for the repairs, but who will cover it is the question.

When it comes to this area, the town is only eligible for a small portion of FEMA reimbursement.

This is why FEMA says it will not reimburse the town for work that was not done.

“We’ve got this section of Sea Pines that has never been done before and that’s the one where the federal government, FEMA, has said to us since you have never built anything there, we can't reimburse you to build something you’ve never built,” said Steve Riley, Town Manager, Hilton Head Island.

So, this means areas that were already re-nourished qualify. But about 2 miles of this beach does not because there have never been any sand placement projects in this area.

Now the town is working on figuring out how to start the project here, but there are some outlying factors.

“There is a position of increased vulnerability, we have the challenge in putting forth and seeking permits for the project,” said  Liggett. “The storm doesn’t void the need for permits, we are trying to balance the impacts associated with the work going on with visitor’s season. We have to coordinate the work with the nesting sea turtles.”

A lot of variables will play into when the town will be able to start the work. Ideally they don’t like to start projects between June 15 and August 15. They are looking at a late summer start date.

They plan to have those permits secure within the next few weeks. 

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