For the last week or so, those of us along the coast in the Southeast United States have been keeping an eye on Hurricane Joaquin as it moved closer to the shore. Weather reports warned of heavy rainfall as runoff from the hurricane was to meet with a low pressure storm creating a LOT of rain. And, well, pardon the language, but shit finally hit the fan here in South Carolina over the weekend. Leading up to this past weekend we kept hearing phrases tossed around like “historic rainfall” and “record-breaking rain.” They weren’t wrong! (In fact, it’s still raining even as I write this post.) I live in the Upstate and even we got hit pretty hard though Columbia and Charleston definitely bore the brunt of things. In addition to heavy rainfall, parts of the state suffered excessive flooding, wash outs, fallen trees, and power outages.
Parts of Columbia and Charleston were already facing some flooding before the hard rain this weekend as we’ve been experiencing rain on and off for the last week and a half or so. In my hometown, the weather didn’t really hit until Saturday evening though we experienced steady rainfall during the day on Saturday. Because the bridge and road that my neighborhood is off of is prone to minor flooding during bad storms as it is, road block signs were already in place off to the side of the road in preparation for the rain. We often lose power too as at least one tree tends to fall during large storms. I also saw on social media that some in town were joking that it was almost like preparing for an ice storm as everyone was making sure to stock up on food and supplies before burrowing in Friday night. While funny, it was also true as my parents and I did the same.
While I believe everyone geared up for the rain, I don’t think anyone was quite prepared for just how bad it got. South Carolina Emergency Management Division (SCEMD) declared the state operating condition OPTCON3 which was later elevated to OPTCON1, the highest of the five settings, Sunday morning. Governor Nikki Haley also declared a state of emergency. As reports started to come in and pictures were spread over social media of flooded neighborhoods, interstates underwater, and bridges and roads being washed out due to flash floods, phrases like “worst natural disaster since Hugo” began being used. (FYI: For anyone who doesn’t know, in 1989 Hurricane Hugo devastated the coast of South Carolina and moved the farthest inland of any hurricane to hit the state in twenty-five years.)
In a press conference Monday morning, Governor Haley stated that as the rain stops, efforts will move from assessment to recovery mode though roads will remain a top priority. She warned residents to remain alert and abide by roadblock signs as engineers and state officials are assessing roads to ensure their safety before reopening them. Yesterday, officials in the Columbia and Lexington areas issued a boil water advisory as well as a 6pm curfew for any non-essential personnel. Thousands of National Guard members have also been mobilized in addition to state and emergency personnel to assist in the most affected areas.
Over 500 roads and bridges have been temporarily closed throughout the state due to flooding and wash outs with 100 of those located in Columbia, according to Palmetto Scene. These road closures include parts of I-20, I-25, and I-26. So, the next few weeks in South Carolina are sure to be busy to say the least.
As of Monday, October 5th, weather related fatalities in the state numbered nine: five drowning and four vehicular. Needless to say, I think we could use any and all good vibes sent our way. #PrayforSC