New Florence flooding forecasts are good news for S. Carolina

  • In this Monday, Sept. 24, 2018 photo, flood waters from the Neuse River cover the area a week after Hurricane Florence in Kinston, N.C. Monday Sept. 24, 2018. (Ken Blevins/The Star-News via AP) Ken Blevins

  • FILE - In this Monday, Sept. 17, 2018 file photo, floodwaters from Hurricane Florence surrounds homes in Dillon, S.C. Scientists say climate change likely boosted rainfall totals for both Florence and 2017's Harvey. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) Gerald Herbert

  • This Monday, Sept. 24, 2018 photo, homes are under water along the flood waters of the Black River after Hurricane Florence in Currie, N.C. Monday Sept. 24, 2018. (Ken Blevins /The Star-News via AP) Ken Blevins

  • In this Monday, Sept. 24, 2018 photo, flood waters from the Neuse River cover the area in Kinston, N.C. a week after Hurricane Florence. )Ken Blevins /The Star-News via AP) Ken Blevins

  • In this Monday, Sept. 24, 2018 photo, a truck travels through flood waters from the Northeast Cape Fear River near Burgaw N.C., a week after Hurricane Florence. (Ken Blevins /The Star-News via AP) Ken Blevins

  • Dead fish litter the streets of Aberdeen Golf Club as floodwaters recede following Hurricane Florence, in Longs, S.C. Monday, Sept. 24, 2018. (Jason Lee/The Sun News via AP) Jason Lee

Associated Press
Published: 9/26/2018 6:15:09 PM

The last community in the way of Hurricane Florence’s floodwaters as they slowly flow to the sea got some good news Wednesday – the predictions aren’t as dire as they once were.

Officials originally expected flooding in the worst areas of Georgetown County to be from 5 to 10 feet. But the latest forecast lowered that estimate to 2 to 4 feet, according to the county’s Facebook page.

Twelve days after the once-fierce hurricane arrived on the coast, and more than a week after it blew north and dissipated, rivers swollen by its relentless rains are still flooding homes and businesses in their paths as they make their way to the sea.

The death toll from the storm is still adding up. North Carolina officials blamed the death of a 67-year-old man who fractured his neck cleaning up storm debris Sept. 18 in Craven County on the storm. Florence has killed at least 47 people – 36 in North Carolina; nine in South Carolina; and two in Virginia.

The newest predictions from South Carolina officials moved back the peak of the flooding from Thursday to Friday in Georgetown County, where the most swollen waterways – the Waccamaw and Pee Dee rivers – meet three other rivers on their way to the Atlantic Ocean.

The forecasts could change again, officials warned, prompting calls for residents to not let their guard down.

“We are still in full battle mode in Georgetown County,” McMaster said at a Wednesday news conference.

The slow-moving disaster has allowed forecasters to pinpoint exactly who will flood. There have been few rescues or surprises in South Carolina – just black, reeking water slowly seeping in and even more slowly receding.

“It’s kind of playing out exactly like we forecast,” said Conway Fire Chief Le Hendrick, who sent firefighters to houses that had never flooded more than a week ago to warn them water was coming. Those same homes were flooded when firefighters surveyed them Monday and Tuesday.

There appeared to be good news in Conway too. The Waccamaw River, which flows through the city of 23,000, has spent nearly a day at just over 21.1 feet, some 6 inches under the predicted crest.

That could avert potential environmental and transportation problems. The river water was still just inches below a coal ash pond at a closed power plant in Conway, according to the state-owned utility Santee Cooper.

Floodwater also had not made it over a temporary barrier on U.S. Highway 501, the main link to Myrtle Beach.

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