May 10, 2015

By Ashleigh Holland

Beaufort and Port Royal residents are taking action, as they face rising sea levels. A task force has formed, and is now planning to prevent the cities’ ruin. NEWS 3 first learned of neighbors’ concerns when a public meeting was held last August.

“I am very concerned about our beautiful national historic landmark district, which as you can see from the slides, is one of the first places that bears the brunt of the sea level rise,” said resident Kin Gundler.

“The biggest industry in this state that we have is tourism, and most of our tourism industry along the coast is small business,” said South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce President Frank Knapp.

Now, a task forced led by Chris Marsh is looking for ways to avoid having Beaufort and Port Royal under water in years to come.  “What we do know is that sea level has risen locally six inches since 1965, and that the rate of sea level rise is increasing,” Marsh says.  Chris marsh is a member of a local conservation group, The Lowcountry Institute. While some residents suggested another sea wall to stop the tides, Marsh has other things in mind.

“Prevention, like things like trying to put up sea walls, but there’s also much simpler situations for example putting just flap gates on storm water drains so that when there are storms the water doesn’t back up into the system,” he says.  Other suggestions are requiring more elevation on future buildings, and moving development away from the troubled areas. Slides in the group’s recent presentation show Beaufort’s downtown submerged in three feet of water, then six feet. Marsh says there is still time to plan. “Much of what we’re talking about is, may cost now, but it will really maintain the community as a functional community 50 and 100 years out,” he says.


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