Ophelia Impacts Low Country Beach

Ophelia is eroding away several feet of this Beaufort County beach.
Ophelia is eroding away several feet of this Beaufort County beach.

Even if Hurricane Ophelia does not hit the Coastal Empire or Low Country, the storm is already impacting one Beaufort County beach.

High waves make for great surfing conditions; however, they're taking a toll on the beach at Hunting Island State Park.

"I was here two weeks ago and this was absolutely level with no debris," said Denis Ames, scanning the beach.

Without making landfall, Hurricane Ophelia has certainly changed the scenery.

"I just thought, "where has the beach gone?" said Ames.

"I came back to the beach and it looked so different," explained Laurel Weeks. "There are cliffs where there use to be dunes. It looks like at least five feet of beach is gone."

Although Hunting Island usually loses 15 feet of beach every year to erosion, park officials say Ophelia is making the situation worse.

"Because we are a barrier island, we change and adapt. The beach changes all the time, but it's really been accelerated by the storms," she said.

In the last several years, the beach was renourished, but now it is literally washing away.

Local residents, like Stu Ames, are concerned. He saw what last year's hurricanes did to the beach. Although the storms didn't come ashore here, the hurricanes still eroded 50 feet of beach, three times more sand than usual.

"It's not nearly as bad as last year," he said. "We hope the remainder of the storm won't do more damage."

With Ophelia still unpredictable, beach goers are just enjoying the treasures of this island and hoping it will weather the storm.

Hunting Island State Park beach is scheduled for a complete renourishment within the next year.

Reported by: Jaime Dailey, jdailey@wtoc.com