Island of St. Helena in South Carolina
These opulent coastal beach houses have been abandoned as the sand progressively erodes, leaving them vulnerable to the elements.
A GROUP OF HOMES ARE ABANDONED BY THEIR OWNERS AND LEFT TO FAIL ON THE QUIET BEACH OF Harbor Island, SC. The beach is constantly changing, and the homes are left to succumb to the elements. The first of three barrier islands off the coast of Beaufort, South Carolina, are Harbor Island and the others are Fripp Island and Hunting Island, a wildlife park (a beach resort). Due to its growing popularity as a getaway destination for both locals and tourists, the undeveloped three-mile beach has seen the construction of condos, duplexes, and houses. There weren’t many restrictions on where residences could be constructed when the island was first being developed, which led to some homeowners erecting their homes directly on the sand. This first appeared to be the perfect location for a beachfront retreat, but it would ultimately turn out to be a geographic nightmare.
Although barrier islands like Harbor Island are stunning, they may also be risky. This barrier between the ocean and the mainland is naturally generated by wave and tide action parallel to the landmass. Barrier islands’ greatest advantage is that they shield the mainland from powerful storms that would harm the ports, but this also means that the islands get to experience the storms in all their splendor. The majority of the time, these islands provide for the ideal beach getaway, but they can be a nightmare when severe storms strike.
These properties’ owners have firsthand experience with this nightmare. Hurricane Matthew, the first Atlantic Category 5 storm since 2007, made landfall in South Carolina as a Category 1 storm in October 2016. It was South Carolina’s first hurricane landfall since 2004. Huge destruction was left in Hurricane Matthew’s wake. Being unprepared for the intense wind and rain and being directly in its path, Harbor Island was severely struck, causing damage and flooding to numerous homes and condos. Even the contour of Harbor Island’s beach was physically altered by Hurricane Matthew’s power and force.
Directly facing the ocean, homes suffered irreparable damage as a result of the hurricane’s force. Realizing the scale of the destruction, the majority of the homeowners pocketed their insurance payout and abandoned their homes on the shore to crumble. Other island homeowners have filed a lawsuit because of it, claiming that the structures are unsightly, unsafe, and prevent people from using the entire beach. You cannot access a tiny section of the beach when the tide is high because the seas do reach the houses.
We don’t know how long these dwellings will stay on the shore before being either swept away by the tide or eventually demolished. They continue to be a striking sight and a moving testament to nature’s strength for the time being.
Understand Before You Go
Although you can drive around Harbor Island, which is a private island, to get to the abandoned residences, you must go through the gate that leads back to the condominiums and homes. You must obtain a pass from renting one of the many houses or condominiums on the island in order to pass the guards who are always stationed at the entrance. If you drive by the northernmost part of the beach, you can also see the abandoned homes from a boat.