Two weeks after Hurricane Florence hit, record floodwaters produced by the storm are beginning to recede and residents along the South Carolina coast are beginning to take stock of the damage.
Some major roads in Horry County and other areas are opening up, and relief work is continuing.
As of Sept. 28, Horry County had reopened S.C. 22, offering relief to drivers who had faced days of massive gridlock in Conway. The road is a major connector between U.S. 501 near Aynor and U.S. 17 in Myrtle Beach. Also, officials from the South Carolina Department of Transportation announced they are dismantling special flood prevention devices that had been installed along U.S. 501 near Conway to keep out floodwaters from the swollen Waccamaw River.
The future was also a little brighter for Georgetown and surrounding areas. Early forecasts had predicted downtown Georgetown could see up to 10 feet of water in some areas, but by Sept. 28 that prediction had been changed to between two and four feet. The revised flood forecast was good news for St. Mary Our Lady of Ransom Church. According to updated flood maps, the church property at 317 Broad St. is no longer in a flood zone, according to Father Richard Wilson, parish administrator. Neither is the St. Cyprian Outreach Center, a few blocks away on West Front Street.
Earlier in the week, he and and others in the parish had made preparations for the worst. Father Wilson evacuated the rectory and, with help from parishioners, moved the furniture out as well and placed other items on elevated tables from the parish hall. The parish also had sandbags on hand to protect the church and other buildings from flooding.
“The new forecast is an answer to our prayers,” Father Wilson said. “We’re very thankful to everyone for their prayers. There are still some of the parishioners who may be in the path of flooding, but they are veterans to this type of thing and say they know what to do if it is needed.”
Although floodwaters in the northern part of Horry County are receding, people in Conway and the Socastee region were still dealing with extremely high water as of Sept. 28.
Holy Trinity School in Longs was among the diocesan properties dealing with the worst from the storm, according to Eric Meister, Catholic Mutual’s claims risk manager for the Diocese of Charleston. He said the school had filed reports related to flooding, including three to four feet of water in the chapel. Other reports of moderate wind damage and water intrusion came in from St. Louis Church in Dillon and Church of the Infant Jesus in Marion.
Workers from Catholic Charities were out in the field continuing to help with relief efforts and assessing needs as more families begin the process of cleaning out flooded homes.
On Sept. 28, the agency’s workers were in Loris to hand out much needed supplies to residents, including food, water, clean-up kits, hygiene products and baby items, said Kelly Kaminski, director of disaster services for Catholic Charities. So far, the agency has been able to help about 300 people in Horry County.
More supplies will be distributed in the coming week at Forestbrook Middle School near Myrtle Beach, on Oct. 3 at the Conway Recreation Center and on Oct. 6 at St. Michael Church in Murrells Inlet.
Kaminski said monetary donations are still the best way to help Catholic Charities’ efforts, especially as area residents begin the long process of rebuilding.
“This coming week we hope to start working with the Mennonites and the Southern Baptists to help people with debris removal and with removing mud and muck from their homes,” Kaminski said. “Monetary donations will help us set people up with temporary housing and also help them to replace household items they have lost.”
To donate, visit www.charitiessc.org/donate or text “Disaster” to 555888.
Photos provided: Staff and volunteers from Catholic Charities Pee Dee Regional Office and the Waccamaw VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster) were on hand at Forestbrook Middle School to pass out supplies for as long as they lasted to those impacted by the hurricane and floodwaters.