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Lexington County resources assisting in coastal regions as Midlands becomes host to thousands

Lexington, SC (Paul Kirby) – Lexington County resources are already being pressed into service in other parts of the state as the evacuation of a large part of South Carolina’s coastal areas continue. We have ambulances in Horry County to assist with evacuation and emergency responses if need be, and more could head that way if necessary. After the storm, Lexington County also is home to many swift water rescue teams equipped with boats at the disposal of emergency planners if they should be required. There are four individual, well-trained, well-equipped teams within our area that includes the one from the Lexington County Fire Service, the City of Cayce, the City of West Columbia, and the Irmo Fire District just on our side of the river.

As the lane reversal of interstates moving away from the coast was complete around noon on Tuesday, parts of the Midlands began to see bottled water fly of the shelves of stores and some gas pumps at stations closest to the interstate go dry as thousands fled inland from the impending storm. Generally, the further you get from major highways, the less of a problem this is. Batteries are a must and you should do everything within your power to go with battery powered or rechargeable devices for light and stay away from having open flames in your home from things like candles. Use generators carefully, don't have them too close to your home if you have to crack a door or window to run a power cord through, and but a carbon monoxide detector to detect the dangerous, colorless, odorless gas.

As of Wednesday morning, Florence was expected to wobble a little south by most of the respected meteorologist who are using multiple models to follow the progress as it gets closer to the Atlantic coast. There are so many options that they are literally referring to them as spaghetti tracks because of the way that they crisscross and intertwine the maps. Currently, the best guesses are that Lexington County may see tropical storm force winds and some rain. This could cause sporadic power outages as some trees to come down but would be nothing like the impact felt by our northern coastal counties like Horry that could easily see more than 12” of rain and hurricane force winds before this is over.

One problem is already internet rumors. Just in the last 12-hours, there have been rumors that we could expect 8” plus of rain in Lexington County and sustained gale force winds. Your best bet is to follow a reputable site for updates and take all gloom and doom forecast from the internet for our area with a grain of salt. One that is highly recommended is Chris Jackson’s South Carolina Weather on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MySCWeather/?ref=br_rs. He updates regularly, doesn't sugar coat anything, and speaks in plain language that most of us can understand. Another good resource is The National Hurricane Center at https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/.

Do prepare, but don’t lose it just yet. Tie down loose items in your yard like trampolines and lawn furniture that could take flight if the winds gust increase. Get extra batteries, some bottled water, jugs of water for other things, hand sanitizer, and canned goods. Think about what you would do if your power goes out and prepare to do the best without those essential items; Do you still have a manual can opener laying around?

What may be more of an inconvenience is the increase in traffic as citizens who have fled the coast try to find their way around. Many motels and hotels are already showing fully booked and some still seem surprised to learn they can’t just jump on I-26 and head east toward Charleston. All lanes will remain reversed until further notice. Do not go to the coast to look. Essential evacuation personnel and vehicles are using the roads going east and you'll just be in the way. Plus, you may get stuck and get smacked by the big girl that's headed our way.

Lines at stores may be longer and we should be prepared to be patient. Bottled water is selling quickly but right now, there doesn’t seem to be a problem with chains restocking this item regularly. Be kind to our neighbors from the coast as they would like to be home just as much as you want them to be home I'm sure. If you really want to help, consider donating money to reputable relief agencies like the American Red Cross. Often, people mean well by going out and buying things to donate when that's the one thing that a relief agency has the most of. Giving money or donating blood lets agencies like the ARC put the right resources in the right hands. Harvest Hope and our other food pantries are always in need.

Watch out for flim-flam men. Know the roofer, the tree man, or any other tradesman before entering into and agreement with them to do anything to your home. Use a reputable company from this area if possible and check websites that rate these types of businesses like Home Adviser, Angie's List, or state regulatory agencies. A professional cleanup company like Sevpro can handle everything from dealing with the contractor to the insurance paperwork.

Last but not least, you can follow government agencies on social media for the quickest updates, but that is not the platform to report a problem. Adding a comment to a Facebook post will get you nowhere when things really get jumping. At The Lexington Ledger, we rarely if ever look at notifications or comments on our post and most government agencies are the same. We just can't keep up with all that and do what we do. If you have an emergency, dial 911. If it's not an emergency but you need help, reach the Lexington County Sheriff's Department at (803) 785-8230. In most municipalities, police and other government officials can be reached at (803) 785-2521.

Follow the County of Lexington, the Lexington County Sheriff's Department, or your local police for updates on Twitter and Facebook or of course your local news site. Download The Lexington Ledger's app at either app store and cut on your notifications for immediate updates of what's happening.

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