As Idalia’s storm water makes its way down South Carolina’s river basins, warnings are going up for riverside communities across the state. As of the morning of Sept. 1, the National Weather Service had issued flood warnings for portions of the Edisto, Santee, Canoochee, Savannah and several other smaller rivers. Many of those warnings will last into next week, or until further notice.
In Charleston County, local officials told residents to prepare for potential flooding along the Edisto over the next few days. The weather service predicts the downstream portions of the river could be close to major flood levels on Labor Day. Charleston County Emergency Management has advised residents to monitor river levels and prepare to relocate to higher ground.
County staff will monitor conditions over the weekend, said Kelsey Barlow, the county’s public information officer. Dorchester County first responders also began alerting residents along the Edisto the morning of Sept. 1.
The National Weather Service has issued issued a flood warning for portions of the Edisto River near Givhans Ferry, which is expected to last “until further notice.” The service anticipates moderate flooding in that area in the coming days.
River water levels near Givhans Ferry could hit more than 13 feet on Sept. 5, the NWS reports. The flood stage in that area is 10 feet. At the NWS monitoring station near Canadys, the Edisto hit almost 20 feet by Sept. 1 — up more than six feet from earlier this week.
Walterboro residents brace for flooding
A small housing complex in Walterboro was bracing Aug. 31 for the heightened river levels.
The six single-story buildings sit just a few dozen feet from Ireland Creek. On the morning of Sept. 1, the river flooded the road, preventing residents from entering and exiting the neighborhood by car.
Rachel Dobbins has lived in the area for four years. She said flooding typically comes after a storm has cleared through as the creek steadily swells with runoff from higher ground.
It’s the second time the neighborhood has been threatened by flooding recently. Two weeks ago, Ireland Creek hit nearly 10.5 feet, according to a U.S. Geological Survey monitor. That surge caused the creek to crest its banks and inundate the complex with about 2 to 3 feet of flooding, neighbors say. A dark line is still visible on parts of the fence surrounding the buildings — a lingering reminder of how high the waters rose that day.
“You can still smell the yard. It smells like a swamp out here,” Dobbins said. “We have no time to dry out.”
On the morning of Sept. 1, the river stood at about 8.5 feet. Colleton County Fire-Rescue closed off the streets surrounding the river, including the one where Dobbins lives. The National Weather Service predicts that the creek has reached its peak and water levels should continue to fall throughout the weekend.
Dobbins said the city dredged part of the creek a few years ago to address the flooding. But she said the project didn’t help much.
“They don’t really pay us much attention over here,” she said.
Diane and Osebee Belton have lived in the neighborhood for about two years. They’re closer to the river than most of their neighbors, and Osebee said it took several days for the water from the Aug. 17 flood to move out.
“It’s scary,” Osebee Belton said. “If you’ve got to walk home through that after work… I mean, you don’t know where the snakes are.”
Dobbins said the flooding which occurred this week wasn’t as severe as what happened a few weeks ago.
Follow Jonah Chester on Twitter @chester_jonah.