Crews working to clear downed trees at Hunting Island State Park

Crews working to clear downed trees at Hunting Island State Park

BEAUFORT COUNTY, S.C. (WTOC) - Beaufort County felt the impact of Hurricane Dorian far more than other areas in the Lowcountry and Coastal Empire.

In places like Hunting Island, state park rangers are working to clean up trees and debris as quickly as possible to get the park back open to the public.

Almost 80 trees were damaged or lost during the hurricane, and now, the park manager says they are trying to get them down and cleared out so they can reopen the park as soon as possible.

“Unfortunately, the rangers at Hunting Island State Park are getting used to cleaning up after storms,” said J.W. Weatherford, Manager, Hunting Island State Park.

Weatherford compares the trees to toothpicks after Hurricane Dorian swept through the island.

“I only counted full-grown, pine trees or oaks that were uprooted, snapped in half, or bent over like a lot of these around me are right now,” he said.

From his count, between 75 and 80 full-grown trees fell on the island, not including smaller, more feeble ones.

“There were 15 trees on power lines,” Weatherford said. “So, the first probably 12 hours that I was here, it was me and some power company crews clearing trees off of the power lines.”

It took them 48 hours to get power back to the island, but compared to hurricanes Matthew and Irma, the progress they’ve made is impressive to Weatherford.

“It feels great coming into the park and knowing that within eight days of the storm sweeping us, we are able to get the park back open.”

Crews have been working every day, and as of Tuesday, it will all pay off.

“Tomorrow, Tuesday, day use of Hunting Island State Park will open, so that will be all of North Beach where the lighthouses are, and South Beach in the Nature Center."

They still have work to do in certain areas of the park.

“Remaining closed after Tuesday will be the campground and the trail system.”

Once those areas are cleared, they are hoping they will be able to say they got the park back open in 10 days or less.

Weatherford tells WTOC that as of right now, they are honoring all reservations that have already been set.

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