Flooding Sandbags 2

I’m not the type who runs around wringing my hands proclaiming that the sky is falling.

Yet, the time to raise an alarm has arrived.

A massive amount of water generated in North Carolina by Hurricane Florence will arrive in Horry County in force starting today.

If it reaches the levels predicted by the experts, Horry County could be completely cut off from the rest of the nation for days.

According to the S.C. Department of Transportation, flood water could exceed the record level set by Hurricane Matthew in 2016. And, not just by a little bit.

Some predications call for the flood from Florence to be four feet higher than Matthew.

If that happens, every major road leading into Horry County could be covered by water.

That includes U.S. 501 at Galivants Ferry, U.S. 701 north and south, U.S. 17. S.C. 9 and U.S. 378.

Highway department crews and the S.C. National Guard are working around the clock to keep at least one route into Horry County open so that the flow of goods and materials can continue.

The plan is to put sandbag barrers in place at flood-prone sections of U.S. 378. Sandbags barriers have also been placed along a section of U.S. 501 Bypass near Conway.

These two highways intersect in Conway and if highway crews are able to keep them open Horry County will have a lifeline to the rest of the nation. We should know by Tuesday if these herculean efforts were successful.

Even so, shortages of gasoline, groceries and other staples could become scarce. It could take 10 days to two weeks for the flood waters to recede.

Already parts of Conway that have never flooded before are under several inches of water with the worst of the flooding yet to arrive.

Conway Mayor Barbara Blain-Bellamy says the city has done almost all that can be done to prepare for the flood.

Nevertheless, she is concerned that vital infrastructure could fail.

As for the next several weeks, she said, “I think the chances are great that we’re going to have some sewer issues. Our ground is low. One of the systems that is most vulnerable to water is the sewer system...It could become a real issue.”

On the positive side, she said, the National Guard, with the help of others, has lifted sewer pumps and worked to protect them from water.

“I think the thing that worries me most...is this idea of being isolated from the world. I mean there’s no question that we’ve got to have a means for goods and services.”

I realize our readers may grow tired of reading about all of the bad things that could be happening to their homes and lives.

In the days leading up to landfall, news media forecast a category 4 or category 3 hurricane would hit near the South Carolina and North Carolina border.

Thank goodness Florence tracked north of the South Carolina coast. Regrettably, it did not turn out to sea as many has hoped, but slammed into the Wilmington, N.C., area.

Once on land, Florence dumped more than 30 inches of rain on our neighboring state to the north and a storm surge in New Bern, N.C., forced hundreds of people to flee for their lives.

When Hurricane Florence blew through the area over the past weekend it did not cause nearly as much damage as many people feared.

The beach communities saw amazingly slight damage.

Although the power went out for large areas of Horry County, it had been almost completed restored by Monday.

I hope all the alarm about flooding will also fail to materialize. Unfortunately, people who know how to measure rainfall and flooding paint a convincingly dire picture.

The state and federal response to the hurricane has been nothing short of amazing.

Even President Trump flew into Conway Wednesday to tour the city and promise federal assistance before and after the flood. His visit was reassuring (and exciting for the people eagerly anticipating his impromptu visit.)

Hundreds of S.C. National Guard units as well as personel from other states in the nation have poured into the county to assist.

More than 200 water rescues have already been conducted.

We appreciate the support provided by our neighbors.

The local effort to protect the public has also been extraordinary.

Local police, fire and emergency response teams have worked tirelessly throughout the storm. No doubt they will be busy in the days ahead.

We hope this week’s edition will provide you with important information about the events that have taken place over the past week.

We will be updating our website, www.myhorrynews.com on a daily basis as the crisis unfolds.

You can also find updates on the MyHorryNews Facebook page.

Mail delivery of our newspapers resumed Monday. We appreciate patience of our readers in getting their paper.

I encourage you to heed the warnings of the experts and get prepared for a possible closure of major highways.

Stock up on drinking water, get gasoline in your vehicles and get ready to have travel restricted for days.


Steve Robertson is owner and publisher of the Waccamaw Publishers family of community newspapers

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