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AC Repair in Folly Beach, SC

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South Carolina is one of the most beautiful places in the United States to call home. However, our local weather can be extreme - high temps and thick humidity in the summer and chilly winter weather during cold months. As a local HVAC company in Folly Beach, SC, we know how crucial it is to have a quality HVAC system in your home and experienced technicians to keep it working correctly.

With more than 35 years of serving the Lowcountry, we are proud to be an active part of our local community. As your neighbors, we are here for all of your HVAC needs, whether you need a new AC unit installed this summer or a heat pump replacement this winter. With a reliable team of NATE-certified technicians and decades of experience in our industry, no HVAC project is too big or small for us to handle.

We offer highly competitive pricing and convenient financing options for all of our clients. At the end of the day, our goal is to make it easy and affordable to live comfortably in your home all year long. We are committed to hard work, honesty, and integrity with every service we offer. If you aren't 100% satisfied with our work, we'll do our part to make it right.

Service Areas

Here are just a few of the reasons why homeowners and business owners in South Carolina trust Action Heating & Air Conditioning:

  • We have been serving clients in South Carolina since 1983 - before many of our clients were even born!
  • We provide a wide range of HVAC services for both heating and air conditioning.
  • We are committed to giving our clients the highest quality products and services at affordable prices.
  • As a Carrier® Factory Authorized Dealer, we have the best HVAC units available.
  • We are members of the South Carolina Association of Heating and Air Conditioning Contractors.
  • We are members of our local Chamber of Commerce and the Air Conditioning Contractors of America.

If you need a trusted AC repair company in Folly Beach, know that our team is geared up and ready to help you today. While you browse our website, have a look at just a few of our specialties here at Action Heating & Air Conditioning:

Air Conditioning Repair in Folly Beach, SC

Summers in the Lowcountry are hot, humid, and sticky. After a long day at the beach or downtown with your friends, nothing feels better than kicking back on the sofa while your air conditioning cools you off. On the other hand, nothing feels worse than walking into your home and feeling warm, stale air hit your face. Those who know, know - having your AC go out during a South Carolina summer is no joke. With time, a relatively minor inconvenience can turn into a real health problem.

In situations like these, something has probably gone wrong with your HVAC system. If your AC has stopped working in the middle of summer, it's time to call Action Heating & Air Conditioning right away. Our team of certified HVAC professionals has years of experience repairing and servicing AC equipment. It doesn't matter how old your unit is or what brand you bought - we have the skills to get your home comfort system up and running in no time.

Heating And Air Conditioning Folly Beach, SC
Here are just a few of the AC issues that our talented team can help solve for you:
 Heating And Air Conditioning Services Folly Beach, SC

Air Conditioning Drainage Block

Over time, condensation builds up in your AC equipment because of its cooling process. This accumulated byproduct must be drained regularly, or the increased amounts of moisture can damage your air conditioner's components.

 AC Repair Services Folly Beach, SC

Air Conditioning Refrigerant Leak

Refrigerant is the substance responsible for keeping your home nice and cool in the summer. When refrigerant levels drop due to a leak, it will affect your AC equipment's ability to cool your home. If your HVAC unit isn't blowing cold air, this could be a reason why.

 HVAC Repair Services Folly Beach, SC

Heater Keeps Running

This is a common AC issue in South Carolina and the U.S. in general. Sometimes this problem is fixed by switching your thermostat to "auto." If that doesn't work, you may have a broken thermostat or a wiring issue that needs to be addressed quickly.

 Air Conditioning Folly Beach, SC

Burning Odors

It's normal for your heater to produce a slight burning smell if it hasn't been used in a while. However, if you are experiencing a persistent burning smell during the summer months when your air conditioning is on, it could be a serious problem. Turn off your HVAC system immediately and call our office as soon as possible so that we may send out a technician to diagnose your problem.

 AC Repair Folly Beach, SC

Broken Air Conditioning Compressor Fan

This fan plays an important role in your AC unit's heat transfer process. When your air conditioning fan breaks, your AC equipment won't be able to cool your home off in the summer when it's needed the most.

Our Special Offers

One of our goals as a company is to provide HVAC repair services at fair and competitive prices. In addition, we want you to feel confident about investing in high-quality heating and cooling systems without having to worry a lot about the costs. We make sure to provide honest and accurate quotes and we offer a variety of financing options. We want you to get the best bang for your buck, so here are some special offers.

See Our Offer

If you are experiencing any of the problems above, be sure to hire a professional contractor to fix your issues. For your safety, don't ever try to make HVAC repairs on your own unless you are trained. When the time come to have your air conditioning system repaired, our team of licensed AC technicians will handle all of the hard work on your behalf. That way, you can stay safe and have peace of mind knowing you're in good hands.

Air Conditioning Install in Folly Beach, SC

Your HVAC system works hard all year long. If you have gone years without much maintenance or AC repair, you probably bought a great HVAC unit. However, with constant use and even normal wear and tear, even the highest-quality HVAC systems are prone to malfunctions. Eventually, it will need to be replaced.

If you need an energy-efficient, reliable cooling system for your home or business, you have come to the right place. We have decades of experience installing new AC systems for our clients and can handle any installation project you have. As a Carrier® Factory Authorized Dealer, we have the most top-rated AC systems available in South Carolina.

At Action Heating & Air Conditioning, we know that buying a new air conditioner and installing it can be a huge source of stress. But when you work with us, it doesn't have to be that way. We have made it our mission to make the AC installation process easy and efficient for our customers. That way, they can focus more on living life and enjoying their home while we work hard on their AC install in Folly Beach.

Whether you plan to replace a faulty air conditioning system or need a Carrier unit for your new construction home, we have got you covered. We will work with you directly to find the best fit for your home and budget. We are also happy to answer all of your AC installation questions prior to and during your initial service appointment.

 Heater Repair Services Folly Beach, SC

Common Signs That You Need a New AC Install in Folly Beach, SC

Trying to figure out whether your air conditioner needs to be repaired or replaced can be a tricky decision to make. Most people have a hard time letting things go, and that includes AC units. It can be hard to know when to let go of the old and welcome in the new. To help save you time and make your decision a little easier, keep the following signs in mind. If you find yourself saying, "that sounds like my AC unit," it might be time for a new air conditioning installation.

 HVAC Repair Folly Beach, SC

Strange Noises

Almost all air conditioners make a bit of low-level noise as they warm up and turn off. However, if you hear loud, unusual noises, it might be a sign that your air conditioner's time is coming to an end. Buzzing and rattling noises are often indicators of a loose part. Grinding and whistling noises may mean something more serious is happening. Because these issues won't dissipate over time, it's crucial to have your air conditioner examined if you hear loud, strange noises.

Frequent Repairs

Folly Beach AC repair is essential for keeping your air conditioner working efficiently. Sometimes, however, it makes more sense from a cost perspective to install a replacement system. This is especially true if your repairs are racking up. Some AC experts suggest using the "$5,000 rule" if you're considering a new AC install. Simply multiply the age of your air conditioner by the costs you have been paying to repair your unit. If that amount is over $5,000, it may make more financial sense to install a new air conditioner rather than pay for expensive repairs throughout the year.

Higher Energy Bills

If you notice that your energy bill has significantly increased in price, it could be a sign that your HVAC unit is struggling to cool your home effectively. Try to be mindful of your air conditioner's cooling cycles. If you notice frequent cycles, even in the summer, it could be the reason for your increased energy bill. In these cases, it's best to have an expert test your system to see if a repair or replacement option is best for your family.

Age of Air Conditioning Unit

This sign is a no-brainer and one of the easiest ways to tell if you need to install a new AC system. On average, your HVAC unit will have a lifespan of 12 to 15 years. If your unit is more than ten years old and doesn't have the "pizzaz" that it once had, it might be time to think about installing a new air conditioning unit.

R-22 Refrigerant

Old air conditioners usually require a type of refrigerant called R-22. This substance is very harmful to the environment and has been all but outlawed on newer HVAC systems. If your AC unit is old enough to require R-22, you should give serious thought to replacing your system with a newer, environmentally friendly solution.

Call Action Heating & Air Conditioning Today!

Over our 35+ year history, we have built our reputation on honesty, skilled workmanship, and reasonable pricing. If you are on the hunt for the highest quality air conditioning repair in Folly Beach, SC, give our office a call today.

Call us at 843-890-0532

Protecting Your Investment

Your air conditioning system works very hard every day, all year long to keep your home comfy and cool. Machines that work hard year-round are going to require maintenance and ongoing services to stay operational.

As a family-owned and operated HVAC company in Folly Beach, SC, we know better than anyone how expensive it can be to maintain an AC unit. We know that money doesn't grow on trees. We also understand that finding last-minute resources to fix an air conditioning system can be challenging. That is why we offer extended warranties for your new or existing AC equipment. With an extended warranty from Action Heating & Air Conditioning, you benefit from repairs, replacement, and additional services covered under warranty. That way, you can enjoy your HVAC products as long as possible.

 Heating And AC Services Folly Beach, SC
If you're having second thoughts about purchasing an extended warranty, consider these points:
  • Generally speaking, HVAC equipment lasts anywhere from 10 to 15 years. However, warranties provided by the factory will often expire before the service life of your cooling unit is over. With an extended warranty, your indoor comfort system is covered even if the factory warranty expires.
  • Having an extended warranty on your AC system gives you the chance to project and plan for any HVAC costs. This helps you balance your budget and anticipate expenses so you aren't caught off guard. Having a warranty will also help protect your budget against increases in labor and parts costs due to inflation.
  • If you're thinking of selling your home, having an extended warranty may help raise your home's value. You may also be able to transfer your extended warranty to your new home if you choose to do so.

Latest News in Folly Beach, SC

Folly Beach City Council passes ordinance amending short term rentals policies

FOLLY BEACH, S.C. (WCIV) — Tuesday night, Folly Beach City Council passed an ordinance amending the Folly Beach Short Term Rentals policies with a vote of 6-1.Eddie Ellis was the only city council member to vote no.The ordinance means the city will continue to require renters to get a business license and a rental registration permit. Because the ordinance passed, there will now be a fee for rental registration.The amount would vary. A fee per $1,000 of income was presented last night.The city estimates shor...

FOLLY BEACH, S.C. (WCIV) — Tuesday night, Folly Beach City Council passed an ordinance amending the Folly Beach Short Term Rentals policies with a vote of 6-1.

Eddie Ellis was the only city council member to vote no.

The ordinance means the city will continue to require renters to get a business license and a rental registration permit. Because the ordinance passed, there will now be a fee for rental registration.

The amount would vary. A fee per $1,000 of income was presented last night.

The city estimates short term rentals end up costing the city about $1 million in public services and infrastructure, so they are trying to recover some of that cost with the new fee. Money is slated to also go towards hiring staff whose only job is managing short term rental licenses and violations.

As for revoking a license, the proposed ordinance suggested changing the current four strikes over a six-month period to three strikes over the course of a year.

“The strikes are only issued after conviction, so not on ticket or warning. But only if a ticket is written and the person is actually found guilty, then we'll issue a strike. So it's fewer strikes over a longer period, but a higher bar for the strike to be issued," City of Folly Beach Administrator Aaron Pope said.

The city will now require more information about the property, like parking plans. Events at rental properties will now have a limit of 25 people instead of the previous number of 49 people.

Paid parking- another problem that’s plagued Lowcountry beaches all summer- was also discussed during the meeting.

The city of Folly Beach submitted revisions to their parking plan to SCDOT in August 2020. That plan was just returned to the city last month.

At the City Council meeting Tuesday, Director of Public Works Eric Lutz presented the revised pay parking expansion plan. The new plan makes those changes laid out by SCDOT.

Pope said Folly Beach is proud that most of their parking is free, but they are asking to increase the amount of paid parking they have to roughly 33 percent of the front beach parking only.

"That's what paid parking is about. It's not about restricting access or discouraging people from coming. It's about finding ways to balance the costs of providing services," Pope said.

City council will share the plan with the public next. Once the city has received public comment, they will submit the proposed plan and public comments to SCDOT for their final approval.

Only after they approve it, can the city implement it.

My Charleston Weekend: Fall in love with autumn

It’s fall y’all! There’s plenty to do in the Lowcountry this weekend, and hopefully cooler temperatures are around the corner. Check out the BBQ sauce contest Firefly Distillery, get spooked at Boone Hall’s Fright Nights or mourn the end of summer at Mermaids and Mateys on Folly Beach.Getting saucyThe Arc of the Lowcountry will host the Getting Saucy BBQ sauce competition from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sept. 24 at Firefly Distillery. Dozens of sauce makers will battle to earn the title of South Carolina BB Sauce ...

It’s fall y’all! There’s plenty to do in the Lowcountry this weekend, and hopefully cooler temperatures are around the corner. Check out the BBQ sauce contest Firefly Distillery, get spooked at Boone Hall’s Fright Nights or mourn the end of summer at Mermaids and Mateys on Folly Beach.

Getting saucy

The Arc of the Lowcountry will host the Getting Saucy BBQ sauce competition from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sept. 24 at Firefly Distillery. Dozens of sauce makers will battle to earn the title of South Carolina BB Sauce Grand Champion.

In addition to plenty of barbecue, there will be live entertainment by Lauren Hall, Ben Fagan and The Holy City Hooligans, Chris Boone and more. There will also be food trucks, beer, wine, a cornhole competition and other fun activities.

Ticket prices are $40 in advance or $45 at the gate. Kids under 12 get in free. To purchase tickets or find more info, go to bit.ly/3UmGf6f.

Ahoy, mateys!

Celebrate all things mermaids and pirates this weekend at Folly Beach’s Mermaids and Mateys two-day inaugural event. The fun starts at 7 p.m. Sept. 23 with an Under the Sea dance at The Loft at St. James Gate. Dance along to songs spun by DJ Miketech, take pictures with the Folly Beach mermaid and enjoy light appetizers. Tickets cost $9 in advance or $14 at the door.

The fun continues at 10 a.m. Sept. 24 with the Salty Saturday Mermaids and Mateys Street Closure Event on Center Street. The street will be lined with vendors, food and art from the Folly Beach area, as well as a huge kids area featuring magicians, sand crafts, inflatables, glitter body art and more. Tickets are $9 in advance and $14 at the door. To purchase tickets, visit bit.ly/3SkhHZA.

Fright Night

Boone Hall’s Fright Nights returns Sept. 24 and runs on a limited schedule through Oct. 30. This year has three new attractions: Freaks World of Oddities, Sinister Cinema Haunted Hayride and The Lodge at Willow Ridge. Gates open at 6:30 p.m. and attractions run until 11 p.m. There will also be vendors and entertainment between the events to keep you spooked all night long.

Due to the terrifying nature of Fright Nights, the event isn’t recommended for children under 12, and under 6 are not permitted. General admission to all three attractions is $35 and VIP passes are $60. Ticket can only be purchased online at boonehallfrightnights.com.

Shake, Rattle and Roll Over

Dorchester Paws is celebrating 50 years of serving the community with their Shake, Rattle and Roll Over Gala. The ’50s-themed event runs 6-10 p.m. Sept. 24 at the Dorchester Shrine Club. Proceeds from the event benefit the thousands of animals that Dorchester Paws takes in each year.

Regular tickets are $100 and VIP tickets are $125. All tickets include complimentary beer and wine, ’50s-style diner food and lots of fun. Purchase a ticket at bit.ly/3BVjz5V.

Oktoberfest

Two Blokes Brewing will host Oktoberfest from 4-9 p.m. Sept. 23. Enjoy food from Krystyna’s Authentic Polish food truck, traditional folk dance tunes and the release of Two Bloke’s new German style lager.

Music will be performed by The Hans Schmidt German band, a six-piece, lederhosen-clad ensemble that plays authentic and imitation folk dance music, including German polkas and waltzes.

So wear your dancing shoes and get ready for German-themed excitement all evening long. This is a free event, but you can get more info at bit.ly/3Lx45by.

How to Save S.C.’s Precious Beaches From Hurricanes

In 2018, Folly Beach along with a 26-mile stretch underwent emergency beach renourishment to restore sand lost from Hurricanes. The damage was so bad that the Army Core of Engineers paid for the entire cost of renourishment.(TNS) - The last time a hurricane reached the Grand Strand, it obliterated North Myrtle Beach’s sand dunes and ripped the Cherry Grove Pier in half.That was just two years ag...

In 2018, Folly Beach along with a 26-mile stretch underwent emergency beach renourishment to restore sand lost from Hurricanes. The damage was so bad that the Army Core of Engineers paid for the entire cost of renourishment.

(TNS) - The last time a hurricane reached the Grand Strand, it obliterated North Myrtle Beach’s sand dunes and ripped the Cherry Grove Pier in half.

That was just two years ago.

Repairs after Hurricane Isaias, which was “only” a Category 1 storm, cost millions of dollars. It wasn’t a hurricane that required major evacuations, but it was a sign of how a single storm, even one that isn’t a Hugo or a Katrina, can do massive damage to one of South Carolina’s most precious resources — the beach.

Protecting beaches is a crucial task for federal, state and local officials. Without the sand that defines the Grand Strand, Charleston’s barrier islands or Hilton Head, the state could lose billions of dollars in tourism. Anyone who grew up in South Carolina during the 1970s and 1980s can share how the near-total erosion of Folly Beach devastated that town’s economy and made it a place to avoid.

“The beaches are a very, very valuable resource for the state of South Carolina, for the country, but they’re under very significant and increasing pressures,” said Paul Gayes, executive director of Coastal Carolina University’s Center for Marine & Wetland Studies. “That’s a significant management challenge, and now the question is how long can we can we manage it as we have?”

In 2018, Folly Beach along with a 26-mile stretch of the Grand Strand underwent emergency beach renourishment to restore sand lost from Hurricanes Matthew, Irma and Florence. The damage was so bad that the Army Core of Engineers paid for the entire cost of renourishment. Normally, the federal entity would pay for just 65% of renourishment in the Grand Strand and 85% in Folly Beach. The remaining cost would be passed off to state and local governments.

Sand dunes themselves are important ecological habitats for grasses and other forms of coastal wildlife, but humans have a more selfish reason for maintaining them.

Dunes protect the buildings and infrastructure that sit behind them, particularly by breaking up storm surges, Army Core of Engineers project manager Wes Wilson said.

As storms come in, they bring in particularly strong waves that sometimes have enough force to topple building, wash away cars and toss boats from marinas onto highways.

Sand dunes, for their part, take the first brunt of that force, Gayes said. The strength of the impact of the storm surge depends largely on how fast the waves are moving. If a dune can slow down a powerful wave by even a couple seconds, that can exponentially decrease the water’s force when it makes impact on whatever lies beyond.

“It takes a long time for a dune to recover,” he said. “It may take weeks and months, even years to build a strong, healthy dune system, but a storm can come in and remove that dune in six hours.”

The dunes are strong, but brittle. They sometimes can’t survive more than one major hit.

“If another storm comes in before it’s recovered, it’s not there to do the protective services that was there before,” Gayes said.

Protecting sand dunes and the beaches in front of them is a circular endeavor. Tropical weather and general erosion over time wash away the sand, and governments have to spend millions of dollars to put the sand back, repeatedly. The task sounds futile, but Wilson says it’s worth it.

“After a hurricane has hit, the beaches that have been renourished and have sufficient protection measures such as dunes in place, fare far better than those that have not,” Wilson said.

The process to actually put sand back can be an irritating one for homeowners and visitors unlucky enough to be at the beach when renourishment is happening.

“We always say it’s a short-term inconvenience for a long-term benefit,” Wilson said. “As the contractor’s working in front of your house for a day or two, they can be kind of loud and kind of noisy. But as soon as they move on, within a day or two, you’ve got a brand new beach in front of your home and reduce the risk of damages not only your home, but the structures behind your home.”

There are a lot of reasons beaches erode. The most constant one is a sort of “river of sand” that is perpetually moving from north to south along the East Coast.

This movement causes some beaches to erode and others to grow, though as the sea level rises, the sand frequently disappears into the depths of the ocean, rather than flowing south to, say, Pawleys Island, Hilton Head or Florida.

“Over the long term, we are always losing sediment,” Gayes said. “That’s why we do renourishment, which is putting sand ‘back in the budget’ by artificial means.”

The more noticeable reason for beach erosion tends to be storms, experts say.

Isaias, for example, was particularly notable because of the damage its storm surges did to the low-lying sand dunes of North Myrtle Beach.

The storm surge’s strength came from both the power of the Category 1 hurricane itself but also the fact that it made landfall during the so-called “King Tides.” These appear several times a year and are known as the highest tides seen in the Grand Strand. When the King Tides reach North Myrtle Beach, particularly the Cherry Grove neighborhood, many roads flood, even without any rainfall or tropical weather.

The wind and storm surges that come with tropical storms and hurricanes break up the sand on the beaches and drag it back into the ocean, Gayes said.

Frequently, the sand will return on its own, but hurricanes can interrupt that process.

“It can move off shore enough that it won’t come back,” Gayes said.

This happened notably from 2016 to 2018, when a series of hurricanes — Matthew, Irma and Florence — tore up South Carolina’s beaches.

Their devastation was amplified by the fact that the hurricanes, particularly Matthew and Florence, were preceded by other tropical weather in the weeks leading up to them. That one-two punch left the beaches with no time to recover between storms.

“It’s not always a given storm that comes in that is the particular problem. It’s what’s happened a week or two weeks or 10 days before some of the big flooding events,” Gayes said. “If you’ve had a storm come in and kind of made the beach go away by moving material out of the upper beach and then the next storm comes in — it’s disproportionately more impactful.”

As a result, the Army Core of Engineers spent $60 million on an emergency beach renourishment spanning 26 miles of the Grand Strand and all of Folly Beach . Other parts of the state also had to do emergency renourishments, but the funding came from other sources, such as local accommodations taxes.

That renourishment required 3 million cubic yards of sand — the equivalent of 300,000 dump trucks — to be pumped from deep in the ocean onto the Grand Strand’s beaches alone.

Even a few years later, without any major storms, there is already some visible sand loss, Gayes noted. Garden City in particular, being on the edge of the renourishment project, has several blocks with at-risk structures as the ocean creeps in.

Not all storms do as much damage as Isaias, Florence, Irma and Matthew. A host of factors, from the speed at which a storm makes landfall, whether it’s a direct hit, the strength of the storm and even the direction it makes contact can all influence how badly the beaches are affected, said Victoria Oliva, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service’s Wilmington office.

“The storm surge is tied to the strength of the storm. The stronger the storm, the stronger the winds and the greater the surge,” Oliva said. “The greatest threat as far as surf goes is the stronger storms that are coming head on and pretty much coming head on for quite a while.”

©2022 The State. Visit thestate.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Oil spills in ocean, on surfers at Folly Beach

FOLLY BEACH, S.C. (WCBD) – Officials say around 8:35 a.m. Wednesday morning, the oil spill was reported near the Folly Beach Pier. News 2 spoke with a beachgoer who says she, along with many others, were covered in oil.Cat Sidwell was on her surfboard when suddenly something fell from above.“Started to smell like oil and it was like real slick all over our skin and board and stuff,” Sidwell said. “And it kind of hit me first. I was like the closer one to the pier.”Soon, other surfers in the ...

FOLLY BEACH, S.C. (WCBD) – Officials say around 8:35 a.m. Wednesday morning, the oil spill was reported near the Folly Beach Pier. News 2 spoke with a beachgoer who says she, along with many others, were covered in oil.

Cat Sidwell was on her surfboard when suddenly something fell from above.

“Started to smell like oil and it was like real slick all over our skin and board and stuff,” Sidwell said. “And it kind of hit me first. I was like the closer one to the pier.”

Soon, other surfers in the area felt the oil rain from above as well.

“Everybody was kind of yelling like, ‘Oh my god, we’re all covered in oil,’” Sidwell said. “It smelled, it was super strong.”

Sidwell says they confronted the construction company on the pier about the spill, but says they were dismissive.

“We kind of yelled up to the guys that were working on the pier like, ‘Hey, you’re spilling oil,’” she said. “And they just yelled back something silly, like laughing that it was biodegradable.”

U.S. Coast Guard officials say the spill was from a faulty hydraulic hammer used on site.

“They had spilled three to four gallons of organic hydraulic oil,” U.S. Coast Guard public affairs representative Vincent Moreno said.

Charleston Waterkeeper executive director Andrew Wunderley says the fact that it’s organice is besides the point.

“Biodegradable or not,” Wunderley said, “it’s still hydraulic fluid and it has no place in the ocean. It doesn’t belong in our waterways, it doesn’t belong on the beach and it certainly doesn’t belong on people.”

Wunderley believes the company should have done more to notify beachgoers of the spill.

“We’d like to see, in this case, the responsible party take it a lot more seriously. It sounds like from what we’ve heard that they did a good job of getting it stopped, but they needed to go the next step and warn the public and say, ‘Hey, this just happened you need to stay out of the water. You need to use caution.”

And thinks they should be held accountable.

“The enforcement agencies in this case are the U.S. Coast Guard and DHEC,” Wunderley said, “and what we are calling on them to do is to investigate, and if there is anything out of the ordinary, they need to fine at a significant level in order to prevent this from happening again.”

The U.S. Coast Guard says the spill is contained and the incident is still under investigation.

Hurricanes threaten SC’s precious beaches. What can save them before the next big storm hits?

The last time a hurricane reached the Grand Strand, it obliterated North Myrtle Beach’s sand dunes and ripped the Sea Cabin Pier in Cherry Grove in half.That was just two years ago.Repairs after Hurricane Isaias, which was “only” a Category 1 storm, cost millions of dollars. It wasn’t a hurricane that required major evacuations, but it was a sign of how a single storm, even one that isn’t ...

The last time a hurricane reached the Grand Strand, it obliterated North Myrtle Beach’s sand dunes and ripped the Sea Cabin Pier in Cherry Grove in half.

That was just two years ago.

Repairs after Hurricane Isaias, which was “only” a Category 1 storm, cost millions of dollars. It wasn’t a hurricane that required major evacuations, but it was a sign of how a single storm, even one that isn’t a Hugo or a Katrina, can do massive damage to one of South Carolina’s most precious resources — the beach.

Protecting beaches is a crucial task for federal, state and local officials. Without the sand that defines the Grand Strand, Charleston’s barrier islands or Hilton Head, the state could lose billions of dollars in tourism. Anyone who grew up in South Carolina during the 1970s and 1980s can share how the near-total erosion of Folly Beach devastated that town’s economy and made it a place to avoid.

“The beaches are a very, very valuable resource for the state of South Carolina, for the country, but they’re under very significant and increasing pressures,” said Paul Gayes, executive director of Coastal Carolina University’s Center for Marine & Wetland Studies. “That’s a significant management challenge, and now the question is how long can we can we manage it as we have?”

In 2018, Folly Beach along with a 26-mile stretch of the Grand Strand underwent emergency beach renourishment to restore sand lost from Hurricanes Matthew, Irma and Florence. The damage was so bad that the Army Corps of Engineers paid for the entire cost of renourishment. Normally, the federal entity would pay for just 65% of renourishment in the Grand Strand and 85% in Folly Beach. The remaining cost would be passed off to state and local governments.

Sand dunes themselves are important ecological habitats for grasses and other forms of coastal wildlife, but humans have a more selfish reason for maintaining them.

Dunes protect the buildings and infrastructure that sit behind them, particularly by breaking up storm surges, Army Corps of Engineers project manager Wes Wilson said.

As storms come in, they bring in particularly strong waves that sometimes have enough force to topple building, wash away cars and toss boats from marinas onto highways.

Sand dunes, for their part, take the first brunt of that force, Gayes said. The strength of the impact of the storm surge depends largely on how fast the waves are moving. If a dune can slow down a powerful wave by even a couple seconds, that can exponentially decrease the water’s force when it makes impact on whatever lies beyond.

“It takes a long time for a dune to recover,” he said. “It may take weeks and months, even years to build a strong, healthy dune system, but a storm can come in and remove that dune in six hours.”

The dunes are strong, but brittle. They sometimes can’t survive more than one major hit.

“If another storm comes in before it’s recovered, it’s not there to do the protective services that was there before,” Gayes said.

Protecting sand dunes and the beaches in front of them is a circular endeavor. Tropical weather and general erosion over time wash away the sand, and governments have to spend millions of dollars to put the sand back, repeatedly. The task sounds futile, but Wilson says it’s worth it.

“After a hurricane has hit, the beaches that have been renourished and have sufficient protection measures such as dunes in place, fare far better than those that have not,” Wilson said.

The process to actually put sand back can be an irritating one for homeowners and visitors unlucky enough to be at the beach when renourishment is happening.

“We always say it’s a short-term inconvenience for a long-term benefit,” Wilson said. “As the contractor’s working in front of your house for a day or two, they can be kind of loud and kind of noisy. But as soon as they move on, within a day or two, you’ve got a brand new beach in front of your home and reduce the risk of damages not only your home, but the structures behind your home.”

There are a lot of reasons beaches erode. The most constant one is a sort of “river of sand” that is perpetually moving from north to south along the East Coast.

This movement causes some beaches to erode and others to grow, though as the sea level rises, the sand frequently disappears into the depths of the ocean, rather than flowing south to, say, Pawleys Island, Hilton Head or Florida.

“Over the long term, we are always losing sediment,” Gayes said. “That’s why we do renourishment, which is putting sand ‘back in the budget’ by artificial means.”

The more noticeable reason for beach erosion tends to be storms, experts say.

Isaias, for example, was particularly notable because of the damage its storm surges did to the low-lying sand dunes of North Myrtle Beach.

The storm surge’s strength came from both the power of the Category 1 hurricane itself but also the fact that it made landfall during the so-called “King Tides.” These appear several times a year and are known as the highest tides seen in the Grand Strand. When the King Tides reach North Myrtle Beach, particularly the Cherry Grove neighborhood, many roads flood, even without any rainfall or tropical weather.

The wind and storm surges that come with tropical storms and hurricanes break up the sand on the beaches and drag it back into the ocean, Gayes said.

Frequently, the sand will return on its own, but hurricanes can interrupt that process.

“It can move off shore enough that it won’t come back,” Gayes said.

This happened notably from 2016 to 2018, when a series of hurricanes — Matthew, Irma and Florence — tore up South Carolina’s beaches.

Their devastation was amplified by the fact that the hurricanes, particularly Matthew and Florence, were preceded by other tropical weather in the weeks leading up to them. That one-two punch left the beaches with no time to recover between storms.

“It’s not always a given storm that comes in that is the particular problem. It’s what’s happened a week or two weeks or 10 days before some of the big flooding events,” Gayes said. “If you’ve had a storm come in and kind of made the beach go away by moving material out of the upper beach and then the next storm comes in — it’s disproportionately more impactful.”

As a result, the Army Corps of Engineers spent $60 million on an emergency beach renourishment spanning 26 miles of the Grand Strand and all of Folly Beach. Other parts of the state also had to do emergency renourishments, but the funding came from other sources, such as local accommodations taxes.

That renourishment required 3 million cubic yards of sand — the equivalent of 300,000 dump trucks — to be pumped from deep in the ocean onto the Grand Strand’s beaches alone.

Even a few years later, without any major storms, there is already some visible sand loss, Gayes noted. Garden City in particular, being on the edge of the renourishment project, has several blocks with at-risk structures as the ocean creeps in.

Not all storms do as much damage as Isaias, Florence, Irma and Matthew. A host of factors, from the speed at which a storm makes landfall, whether it’s a direct hit, the strength of the storm and even the direction it makes contact can all influence how badly the beaches are affected, said Victoria Oliva, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service’s Wilmington office.

“The storm surge is tied to the strength of the storm. The stronger the storm, the stronger the winds and the greater the surge,” Oliva said. “The greatest threat as far as surf goes is the stronger storms that are coming head on and pretty much coming head on for quite a while.”

This story was originally published September 6, 2022 5:00 AM.

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