Flooding delays much anticipated Hunting Island State Park reopening

An image taken by park staff shows flooding following this week’s rainfall.

The State Park Service has delayed the reopening of Hunting Island State Park for at least a week after storms dropped about seven inches of rain in less than 36 hours.

The rainfall abruptly suspended the final phases of Hurricane Matthew recovery and caused flooding that would make the park unsafe for visitors. The new reopening date is Friday, June 2.

“We are heartbroken over the turn of events this week,” Director of South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism Duane Parrish, said. “We were looking forward to welcoming the thousands of families who enjoy the park every spring and summer. But we’re going to do everything we reasonably can to get the park ready for next week.”

An image taken by park staff shows flooding following this week’s rainfall.

Hunting Island was scheduled to reopen on Friday, May 26, after being closed for seven months following Hurricane Matthew. The park had planned to reopen both North and South beach areas, some trails and its freshwater lagoon.

Of all of South Carolina’s coastal state parks, Hunting Island suffered the worst damage.

Click here to see aerial images of Hunting Island State Park and Edisto Beach State Park taken just days after Hurricane Matthew made landfall in South Carolina.

Beach erosion, downed trees and saltwater intrusion into the electrical systems caused major issues. There was also a breach in the beach from the ocean to the lagoon.

The campground at Hunting Island suffered irreparable damage to the dozens of campsites nearest the beach. Half of the campground’s campsites will not be rebuilt. It is slated to reopen in mid to late-June, but will be a much different experience for those who have camped there in the past.

When it opens on June 2, park officials still recommend following a few tips for an optimal visit:
• Car pool as much as possible, since the park lost about one-third of its parking spaces
• Visit during weekdays
• Visit during non-holidays
• Visit in the early afternoon
• Avoid restricted areas

The admission fee for Hunting Island is $5 per person; $3 per child age 6-15 years old; free for children 5 years old and younger; and $3.25 for South Carolina senior citizens age 65 and older.