SC governor tries to solve flooding in short and long term
NICHOLS, S.C. (AP) — Gov. Henry McMaster started his Saturday in a South Carolina town devastated by flooding twice in three years to try to help make things better in the short and the long term.
McMaster and other volunteers helped clean trash and debris out of drainage ditches. Residents said the clogged ditches likely made the flooding worse from heavy rains caused by Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and Hurricane Florence in 2018.
McMaster is also scheduled to hold a meeting of his South Carolina Floodwater Commission at Nichols Town Hall. The commission is trying to solve a number of flooding issues in South Carolina from river flooding that destroyed Nichols twice to regular tidal flooding that happens in Charleston.
The commission is working with Clemson University on a $1.5 million study on why the town’s flooding is so bad, but with work just beginning, residents are hoping this hurricane season is calm.
For at least 80 years, Nichols didn’t flood.
But in October 2016, a foot (30 centimeters) of rain fell upstream in Hurricane Matthew, backing up enormous amounts of water at the confluence of the Little Pee Dee and the Lumber rivers south of town. Less than two years later, 2 feet (60 centimeters) of rain fell upstream from Hurricane Florence. The flooding repeated, a little deeper.
The first flood came with little warning in the middle of the night. Dozens of people were rushed out of homes in boats or even dump trucks as the water rose. In 2018, the town knew ahead of time: Crews shut off water and power and people like Lee were able to get vehicles, furniture and other possessions to higher ground, reducing damage bills to just floors and walls.