TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WSAV) – Officials with the Chatham Emergency Management Agency (CEMA) are tracking high tides throughout the county, including on Tybee Island.
There were warnings Monday to avoid roadways with standing water and to prepare for potential flooding.
“As soon as we got to the top of the walk to the beach it was like somebody stole the beach,” Dino Soriano a resident from Chatham County said on Saturday when the tide washed into the crossover ramps.
CEMA’s Assistant Director Randall Matthews predicted Saturday that high tides would force portions of Highway 80 to close. It frequently flooded in previous years, but now, a repaving project will prevent it from happening, except in extreme situations.
During a repaving project last year, the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) raised low points on the roadway by up to eight inches. Minor repairs will continue this year, according to former Tybee Island Mayor Jason Buelterman.
The additional inches did prevent closings on Monday when high tides saturated Highway 80’s marshes and flooded Tybee Island’s beaches.
“That has helped tremendously. A couple of years ago, we had to close the road several at high tide, but typically now it doesn’t even get to the shoulder. When they designed the repaving they designed it to withstand up to 10 feet of a tide,” City Manager Shawn Gillen commented.
Locals on the island and surrounding areas commented on the strong tide’s impact on the beach with passersby exclaiming at all of the debris left behind on the sand.
“[I’ve] literally never seen beach erosion out here this bad out here and after they’ve done all of that effort to revitalize the beach it’s sad,” Soriano added.
Millions of dollars were spent on the island’s recent renourishment project. Gillen said erosion naturally occurs during hurricane season.
“Every time we renourish it, it erodes back. That’s just the natural process. We expect to lose 20 to 30 percent of the beach the first year. The beach and the berm and the dunes, all are here to protect us from a hurricane storm surge and it’s designed to last about 10 years or so,” the city manager added.