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After extensive flooding, Charleston focuses on Irma recovery

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The intersection of Lockwood Drive and Bee Street was submerged Monday as Hurricane Irma's effects were felt across the Lowcountry. (Photo/Provided by Erin Spencer)

The eye of Hurricane Irma whirled more than 200 miles away, but the storm still created a tidal surge in the Charleston area rivaling that of Hurricane Hugo.

The storm spurred major flooding and tropical storm conditions in the Charleston region Monday after it passed through Florida and Georgia before continuing on its westward track.

Heavy rains, powerful winds, high tides and storm surge coalesced to flood much of the peninsula, area beaches and parts of West Ashley and James Island.

Water spilled over The Battery’s sea wall and into White Point Garden. Docks were ripped from their moorings. The Folly boat washed away before being located at a nearby dock. Many neighborhood streets were underwater.

Thousands lost power, more than 100 streets were impassable in the city and a few tornadoes passed through the area. Officials warned residents to stay off the roads through the night.

By this morning, the storm had passed. Much of the water receded during low tide, although some streets remain flooded. Tree branches litter many streets, sidewalks and yards. S.C. Electric & Gas Co. is working to restore power to around 12,000 Lowcountry customers still without it.

Standing in the sunshine in downtown Charleston today, Mayor John Tecklenburg talked about the aftermath of the storm.

Tecklenburg thanked city staff and emergency workers for their efforts during the storm. He said the city now turns its attention to recovery.

“We’re in full recovery phase,” he said. “Tomorrow we expect to be fully back to business.”

He added: “We’ve got to clean up. We’ve got to drain out. We’ve got to dry up. We’ve got mud on the streets. We’ve got flooding still that’s yet to drain out in West Ashley.”

Charleston recovery efforts

As of this morning, more than 200 city employees are helping with recovery efforts. Public service crews are working to remove water, clear storm drains and remove debris from roadways. Street sweepers are helping to clear the roadways.

  • The Concord Street pump station was fully functional throughout the storm. It had pumped 42 million gallons of water as of noon today.
  • During the storm, 142 residents were housed in shelters; they have since left.
  • Free parking offered in city garages will end at 7 a.m. Wednesday.
  • City offices will reopen Wednesday.
  • Citizens should report damage online or call 843-973-7219.
  • As of 2 p.m. today, nearly 11,000 Charleston customers were without power.

Charleston road closures:

  • During the storm, 111 roads were closed. As of 2 p.m., 15 still had closures. Click here for an updated list.
  • Crews are now working to repair 33 traffic signals throughout the city that are reported to be inoperable.

Evacuation order lifted for eight barrier islands

  • Gov. Henry McMaster lifted all evacuation orders this morning for residents wanting to return to eight barrier islands along the S.C. coast. Some of the islands are open but with restricted access; some roads remain closed.

Reopening details:

  • Beaufort County: Hilton Head and Daufuskie islands are open for re-entry. Local officials will restrict access to Hunting, Harbor and Fripp islands.
  • Colleton County: Because of current conditions and damage to Edisto Beach, local officials will restrict access.
  • Jasper County: Tulifinny and Knowles islands are open for re-entry. Officials urged returning residents to use caution when returning to their homes and businesses.

Reach Liz Segrist at 843-849-3119.

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