Kalmia Gardens spared worst of storm

September 20, 2018

HARTSVILLE, S.C. – The Kalmia Gardens escaped the worst effects of Hurricane Florence.

When assistant director Dan Hill heard the hurricane was a Category 4 storm, he expected heavy winds and lots of rain. Hill knew that recovery from Hurricane Matthew in 2016 was continuing and that many trees, including 93 canopy trees, had been uprooted in that storm.

Gradually, as Florence reached land, it slowed down and weakened into a Category 1 hurricane before it made landfall in Wrightsville Beach. Still, the slow movement of the storm brought torrential rains to the Carolinas including the lands drained by Black Creek. Black Creek runs through the gardens.

Water came on the property mostly because of its location downstream from the Lake Robinson dam on the creek.

When the dam on Black Creek was opened and water flowed, it brought several feet of water on the floodplains below the bluffs on the property. Hill walked around the property after the storm in hip-high waders and there were several places that he was unable to get through because the water was at the top of his waders.

Now, the water is slowly going down. Even from a walk earlier Wednesday morning, Hill noted several places that the water was lower than it had been. The water was still above the canoe dock along Black Creek.

“The floodplains did their job,” Hill said.

The floodplains absorbed the water preventing, major damage to the gardens, and the larger footprints of the cyprus trees allowed them to stay on the ground. During Hurricane Matthew, the ground was so saturated that winds were easily able to uproot trees.

Few trees have been uprooted by Hurricane Florence in the gardens. Most of the damage done was smaller branches and leaves gathered along the boardwalks through the gardens.

Hill said the hurricane was allowing diversity in animal life to grow because the additional water allowed animals to move to locations they normally could not.

Hill also added that he hoped the storm would show the need for people to clean up their waste as all the waste eventually finds its way into a stream and ultimately an ocean.

He said the gardens have three full-time employees and several part-timers and has a garden club. The gardens are dependent on grants and donations.

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