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Hugo-Wracked Beaches Spared Damage from High Tides

October 17, 1989

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) _ Fair weather and a new defense of sand spared South Carolina’s hurricane- scar red beaches further damage from unusually high tides.

As the cleanup from Hurricane Hugo continued nearly a month after it struck, there were these other developments:

- Officials on Isle of Palms asked a judge to postpone elections set for Nov. 7.

- A spokesman for the National Flood Insurance program said 12,644 Hugo flood claims filed in South Carolina will represent the program’s biggest payoff ever.

- Schools reopened Monday for 44,000 youngsters. Pupils built houses for displaced birds, wrote essays and talked out their feelings about the storm.

A high tide of 7.3 feet arrived Monday morning along beaches flattened by Hugo’s 135 mph winds and 17-foot tidal surge last month. Tides generally run between 5 and 6 feet along South Carolina’s coast.

″It was a beautiful day and the ocean was just about flat at high tide,″ said Folly Beach Mayor Bob Linville. Forecasters had said the tides could further damage the beaches only if accompanied by storm-driven winds; winds Monday were only 7 mph under sunny skies.

The higher-than-normal tides were caused by an alignment of the Earth, moon and sun that occurs about once a decade.

During the last two weeks, crews have been pushing up mounds of sand along 40 miles of the hardest-hit areas of the coast.

″The berms on the beaches performed well. They did exactly what they were intended to do,″ said Lt. Col. Jim Scott, an engineer with the Army Corps of Engineers.

He said in some places the tides breached the berms, but the water pooled harmlessly behind them.

At Folly Beach, the tide gently washed over a temporary replacement road to about 200 homes on the island’s east end. As the tide receded, the road was uncovered and traffic began using it again.

Predicted high tides were to drop to 7.2 feet today and then recede the rest of the week.

On Isle of Palms, Mayor Carmen R. Bunch and other officials asked a judge to postpone the election.

″It’s unconscionable to politic on the island at this time,″ said Ms. Bunch, who had not filed for re-election Monday.

But critics of her administration - which came under fire when it prevented residents from returning to the island while workers cleaned it up - claim the delay would illegally extend the officials’ terms.

″We have what is tantamount to maternal despotism over there,″ said Edward Guerard, who represented mayoral candidate W.C. Walters at a preliminary hearing Monday. ″For the city to now say that the residents can’t choose to throw them out is ludicrous.″

The National Flood Insurance spokesman, Rick Mayson, said Hugo flood claims will represent ″the biggest payoff in the history of the program.″ He predicted some property owners would use the cash to move their buildings back from erosion-prone beaches.

Schools reopened Monday, but in Charleston County some school buildings were so badly damaged they will remain closed for months, during which classes will be held in neighboring schools.

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