Lexington County, SC (Paul Kirby) The SCDPS has announced that the reversal of the interstates will end today as Hurricane Florence is predicted to take a more southwesterly track after making landfall in North Carolina. The latest computer models show almost identical land strike areas and then the turn toward South Carolina’s heart. Even though the storm weakened a bit overnight, the fear right now is the size of the storm and its speed. It is very large, full of rain, and is predicted to move very slowly after coming ashore making major flooding a real concern.
Lane reversals in our area will end late Thursday night. Crews will begin reopening eastbound lanes in Charleston at I-526 beginning at 6 p.m. The teams will come backwards toward Columbia, reopening each interchange to eastbound traffic as they pass. Any vehicles heading west in the east lanes will continue on to their destination in front of the SCHP flush cars. Once the teams reach the I-77 interchange in Lexington County, all eastbound lanes will be open as normal. It took about 6 hours to close so you can expect it to be reopened about midnight.
SC Governor Henry McMaster has once again reiterated what he has been saying for several days. This storm is no joke and if you live in areas that are under a mandatory evacuation, get out now! Once the reversed lanes are completely reopened to eastbound traffic, fleeing is going to be much more difficult. He is reopening the lanes because the reversal robs valuable emergency resources that may be needed in other areas. Many of the law enforcement officers will be switched to a role of protecting people’s homes and property after their evacuation. The governor reminded everyone through the state’s EMD that if you stay and an emergency happens during the height of the storm, first responders may not come when you call. Emergency agencies are not going to put police, fire, or EMS crews at risk to rescue someone who made a terrible decision and ignored evacuation orders.
DHEC, the state agency that’s charged with the inspections of pond dams in our state, has assessed 181 dams ahead of Hurricane Florence. Their staff is continuing to assess dams across the state from the coast and inland. Several days ago, Lexington County urged pond owners to begin lowering the levels of their ponds. Additionally, pond owners should carefully remove floating debris from ponds that might clog spillways and the discharge streams below a dam. Secure docks and boats well as these can also break loose and clog a spillway causing it to overtop. Once the storm hits, report overtopping immediately. Emergency responders may not be able to help save a dam, but they can warn people downstream if a failure is imminent.
The Lexington County Sheriff’s Department is reminding everyone that they should take a few minutes to get prepared. They have a list of suggested items that you should have in case we do get hit hard and lose power for an extended period. The items they have included on that list are enough food for your family for five days. Canned is best because it keeps without refrigeration. Make sure you have a manual can opener handy too. You should have your prescriptions filled, your insurance papers, identification, and other important documents, and a first aid kit. Make sure you have a working flashlight (LEDs last the longest), some cash because ATMs and credit card machines may be down, and extra batteries for your flashlights. Also remember pet food.
If our area should have to evacuate, shelters locally will be opened that will have food, cots, and hot showers. Pack only one bag per person and take only what you need. Take a child’s favorite toy and games that lots can play like board games and cards. There will be state and local officials at each shelter to provide you with essentials you may have forgotten.
Don’t fall for the unsubstantiated internet pleas for help. We have seen shelters inundated with blankets and water they never asked for or needed. The staff of The Lexington Ledger will do our best to vet requests for help so that you can do the most good when you want to help. Download our app from the Apple App Store or Google Play to get the latest up to the minute updates.