Last year, my friend Patty Morrison and I spent four days in
mid-October 2015 at the King & Prince Hotel on St. Simons Island – see St
Simons Island, Georgia, a Love Story.. We enjoyed ourselves so much we decided to return Oct. 14 – 18, 2016 to
our special place in southeastern Georgia.
We were also worried about destruction caused by Hurricane
Matthew’s winds and storm surge and luckily found less damage than we expected.
The Torras Causeway cuts across five miles of marsh and
rivers. Our first site of storm
damage was to the island’s famous marshes.
Much of the marsh grass was flooded and under water, or
simply uprooted. The marsh is
resilient and the grass will eventually return.
One of the island’s iconic structures is the Lighthouse
which the week before was engulfed in three feet of water caused by a six to
nine foot storm surge. I saw a
video of the seawater rising up and waves rolling by the lighthouse. The Arnold Road video showed three feet
of water rolling around the King & Prince Hotel and standing in front of
the beloved Crab Trap and Crabdaddy’s restaurants.
The storm surge rose well above the below sea wall and water
filled the Village, the island’s main commercial center. The tide pictured is higher than normal
due to a historical annual high tide during mid-October.
Gould’s Inlet adjacent to the East Beach is noted for the
tides and currents that constantly change the sandbars that appear at low tide.
Two virtual rectangular super
sandbars now appear at low tide with new sandbars rising from the sea in front
of the King & Prince.
The celebrated and miles long East Beach is accessible by
foot from Gould’s Inlet. The
wooden stairway was partially washed away and must be rebuilt.
The East Beach Road marsh is one of the thickest and most
dramatic of all the island’s beautiful marshes – one can see new streams carved
out by Matthew’s winds and surges.
Access to the East Beach area and Coast Guard Station was
currently limited due to ongoing repair work in the area – electric wires fell
and power lines were being rebuilt.
This picture provides a closer look at the mitigation
efforts by Emergency Response Teams that got the island up and working in less
than a week.
St. Simons Island is noted for its vast tree cover of live
oaks that an arborist might value in the billions of dollars. Although the tree cover did take a
serious hit, it is safe to conclude that the island’s green treasure survived
in fairly good shape.
Two massive live oaks on Butler Street (above picture)
survived despite losing a lot of branches and perhaps half of its leaves.
My friend John Allen, an islander, assessed that the live
oaks came through alright but a lot of water oaks split or toppled.
Above tree fell on house, below tree uprooted but held up by
Many residences suffered water seepage as exhibited below in
ruined carpet and plastic bags full of damaged home goods.
I captured a live oak, located ironically on Oak Street,
that survived the storm fairly intact but with serious loss of small branches
I often accompany John Allen during my visits while he walks
his dog Daisy around the Village.
Mallery Park is probably both Daisy’s and my favorite stop during the
tour – have always been in awe of the stately live oaks that grace the
park. I was both happy that this
distinguished congregation of oaks came through okay but suffered a measure of
The King & Prince Hotel combines a fabulous ocean-front location
with a spacious, comfortable facility and staffed by attentive, capable
people. Our ocean view suite is at
far right of picture.
The suite is fully furnished with daily maid service.
The view from our second floor terrace captured new sandbars
appearing at low tide.
In contrast, I took a picture of the ocean at high
tide. Coincidentally, an annual
mid-October event, a historic high tide, occurred a week after a historic storm
Below, a post-card from St. Simons, is a glorious sunset
that I captured our last night.
Patty requested that I try to photograph the moon over St.
Simons too – gave it a good effort.
This is an appropriate place to say ‘that’s all folks’. There’s a good chance there will be a
St. Simon’s III in 2017.