Michael’s wind, rain lead to street flooding, debris

October 12, 2018

FLORENCE, S.C. – The remnants of powerful Hurricane Michael blew through the Pee Dee quickly on Thursday, and the tropical storm blew down limbs and generated some chaos, but it did not cause any major damage.

Though damage was light in the Pee Dee, Wednesday’s rains combined with Thursday’s storm dumped a lot of water at the headwaters of two Pee Dee streams that probably will push them out of their banks in the not too distant future.

Many school systems were closed for the day to keep student-laden school buses off the road when winds were forecast to gust up to 40 miles per hour in some communities.

Many Pee Dee and South Carolina governmental offices closed for the day as well.

Florence County first responders spent much of Thursday rolling to wrecks, chasing fire alarms set off by power surges, dealing with limbs on power lines and, in one instance, standing by for a medical assist at a home where one resident was on oxygen and the house had lost power.

The Florence Family YMCA closed for a while after it lost power as a result of a blown transformer. Traffic lights in several Pee Dee communities went out when power to them was lost.

Duke Energy reported multiple minor outages throughout the Pee Dee at 3 p.m. Thursday, the largest of which were along S.C. 151 between Darlington and Hartsville as well as in Hartsville.

Florence County Emergency Management Division spokesman Levi James said they were monitoring river levels and in contact with state officials, but no flooding and no damage had been reported as a result of the storm, though minor roadway flooding and water in low-lying areas was reported.

Florence Public Works Director Chuck Pope said Thursday afternoon that the storm had deposited approximately five inches of rain on the city, causing ponding of water along streets but no flooding. With the rain having quit, he said, the water was beginning to make its way into the city’s drainage system.

Pope also said that city only had to remove one major limb that fell on Calhoun Street and several smaller limbs that had fallen elsewhere.

He also said he was not aware of any power outages in the city as of 2 p.m. Thursday.

The City of Darlington reported more than a dozen city streets were under water at different points during the storm and that several traffic signals were also out at various times during the storm.

Darlington firefighters and utility crews cleared several trees from city streets while city police officers checked on shut-ins throughout the storm, according to a release issued by the city.

“Household garbage pickup and yard debris collection will be collected on Friday for Thursday’s regular route and Friday’s regular route,” according to the release. “There will be no recycling collection this week. Recycling will resume Tuesday, Oct. 16, as scheduled.”

Wednesday’s and Thursday’s rains that fell across the headwaters of Black Creek in Darlington County and in its watershed in Darlington and Florence counties will drain through Florence in the next couple of day. The creek is set to crest at moderate flood levels – 15.4 feet – Saturday.

Black Creek last flooded during Hurricane Florence and crested on Sept. 17 at 17.37 feet – a record – according to the creek’s hydrological website maintained by the National Weather Service. Flood stage for the creek is 10 feet.

The Lynches River at Effingham was forecast to enter flood stage overnight Sunday into Monday and to climb to at least 17 feet by Tuesday afternoon, according to a briefing issued by the National Weather Service office in Wilmington, N.C., based on 1 p.m. observations. By the 3 p.m. observation, the river crest forecast had been reduced to 15.7 feet. The flood stage for the river is 14 feet.

Lynches River flooded after Hurricane Florence and crested near major flood stage before it quickly receded.

Mandatory evacuations were ordered for both streams at the time.

The Great Pee Dee River at both Pee Dee and Cheraw is forecast to rise to moderate flood stages. The waters will affect timberland and livestock.

Morning News reporter Matthew Christian contributed to this story.

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