As Tropical Storm Florence moved further to the north than initially predicted, South Carolina has been spared most of its potential wind damage. However, officials have now shifted their concern to potential flooding across the Pee Dee.
Transportation Secretary Christy Hall says officials are concerned four bridges across the Pee Dee could be overtopped by floodwaters.
“Those four bridges we predict will be topped by floodwaters possibly late on (Monday), possibly early (Tuesday),” she told reporters during a briefing on Saturday.
Those bridges are U.S. Highway 501 at Gallivants Ferry along the Little Pee Dee River, along the Lumber River at S.C. Highway 9 near Nichols and S.C. Highway 917 near Mullins and the Highway 9 bridge over the Waccamaw River near Longs.
The potential washouts as heavy rain combines with floodwaters arriving from North Carolina could potentially cut off the Myrtle Beach region to outside traffic.
But Hall said crews will try to avoid that by keeping U.S. Highway 378 open to western Horry County and Conway. But she said that will require building a temporary concrete and flood-control barrier dam at the Lynches River bridge near Lake City. SCDOT and the National Guard will also build a temporary barrier along the U.S. Highway 501 Bypass outside Conway along Lake Busbee. Both highways are also projected to be topped by floodwaters without the dams.
Crews will keep an eye on the Lumber, Little Pee Dee and Waccamaw rivers up until the expected overtop on Monday. If that happens, Highway 378 from Lake City would become the primary route for traffic heading into the region.
Gov. Henry McMaster ended an evacuation order for the three counties around Charleston — Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester — leaving only Georgetown and Horry County under the order as of Saturday night.
McMaster also confirmed the first South Carolina death blamed on Tropical Storm Florence. Union County officials said a woman died when her car struck a downed tree Friday night. The county coroner’s office said 61-year-old Amber Lee died at the scene. The crash happened near the town of Jonesville.
At the storm’s peak around 8 a.m. Saturday, nearly 172,000 customers lost power across South Carolina. However, that number had dropped to 118,000 as of 2:15 p.m.