You would think that after flooding from Hurricane Florence a year ago closed many roads in Horry County, something would have been done about the problem.
Well, think again.
When Hurricane Dorian brushed the coast of South Carolina a couple of weeks ago, flash floods closed some of the same roads that were impacted by Florence.
U.S. 701 north of Conway, for example, was closed for nearly a day. Several roads going through swamps also were closed to traffic.
The closings were a minor inconvenience this time around. However, Dorian should serve as a reminder that state and county officials have done very little to alleviate future road closings caused by severe weather.
Government and highway officials know where problems exist. They can be seen on new flood maps recently released by the county.
Yet, haven’t seen, or heard of a plan of action, with the exception of U.S. 501 near Conway.
To the surprise of many on Horry County Council and Conway City Council, the S.C. Department of Transportation is working on a plan to raise the roadbed of U.S. 501 near the Waccamaw River.
The DOT is seeking nearly $9 million in federal money to build the roadbed around the U.S. 501 bridge spanning the Waccamaw River by about two feet.
Total cost of the project is about $11.6 million. If the state receives federal money, the balance will come from DOT funds.
A decision on the funding will likely be determined early next year, according to an official with the DOT.
The state plans to spend about $2 million for studies that would look at not only the benefits of raising the road, but also placing culverts beneath it to prevent water from being dammed on the downtown Conway side of the highway.
The plan has been met with reservation from some members of Conway City Council. The city was critical of a “lifeline” built by the state during Hurricane Florence designed to keep U.S. 501 open between Conway and Myrtle Beach.
City officials feared the lifeline would serve as a dam that would back floodwaters up onlto and into Conway homes.
When contacted by our newspapers, Conway officials said they would not support elevating U.S. 501 unless culverts under the highway are part of the discussion.
Raising U.S. 501 certainly merits consideration, but such action does not go far enough. There are several other major highways in Horry County that also need to be raised. For example, S.C. 22 needs a major upgrade as do parts of U.S. 701 North, S.C. 9, S.C. 905 and S.C. 90.
The preliminary flood maps recently released by the county illustrate the extent of the problems confronting residents of Horry County.
https://www.horrycounty.org/gis/flood/ to see how your home and neighborhoods might be affected.
I understand it would be cost-prohibitive to address all of the flooding issues confronting the county’s system of roads. We live in a flood-prone part of South Carolina. Temporary road closings come with the territory.
Nevertheless, state and county officials should have a very accurate picture of how major highways will be impacted during a flood.
The U.S. 501 project is a good start, but more must be done.