Georgetown County leaders say flooding headed their way may not be as bad as initially feared, but they are still preparing for the worst if needed.
The county’s emergency management office said in a Facebook post Wednesday that flow has slowed along the Waccamaw River, so that the worst flooding is expected to occur Friday morning.
Forecasters have significantly lowered predicted flood levels, from previous estimates of 5-10 feet in some of the hardest hit areas, down to 2-4 feet. However, the predictions are still above Hurricane Matthew levels and can still cause significant damage to flood zones, including Georgetown’s popular Front Street restaurants and businesses.
“(It’s) definitely an improvement on previous expectations,” the office posted. “HOWEVER, please keep in mind that these predictions can change back as quickly as they changed this morning, so now is not the time to let your guard down.”
The state Department of Transportation has installed flood barriers across U.S. Highway 17 in Georgetown in an effort to prevent the area from being cut off by expected floodwaters. The AquaDams are designed to raise the elevation that floodwaters would need to overtop the roadway. The inflatable dams will be atop two rows of barriers.
Meanwhile, South Carolina National Guard commander Maj. Gen. Robert Livingston said it’s still not certain what the rest of the week holds. “We don’t know what’s going to happen, this is unprecedented flooding,” he said in a video posted for Guardsmen. “So we have to maintain our capabilities to respond.”
Flooding for the Waccamaw set new records upstream in Conway, where city leaders say it damaged more than 220 homes. The town’s fire chief Le Hendrick told reporters the water levels flooded neighborhoods untouched by previous flooding. However, most residents had been safely evacuated in advance as flood maps accurately predicted which areas would be impacted.