Hurricane Florence 2018

Tuesday, September 25th, 2018 - updated at 3:00 p.m.

Hurricane Over Southern United States

This page will be updated regularly as information becomes available.

DHEC is closely monitoring developments with Hurricane Florence. We are working with Governor McMaster and the South Carolina Emergency Management Division in accordance with the South Carolina Emergency Operations Plan and the South Carolina Hurricane Plan.

Stay tuned to your local weather forecast and get the latest information about our preparation and response efforts by following us on Twitter and Facebook.

In response to Hurricane Florence, DHEC staff continues to actively assess and respond to ongoing public health and environmental needs across the state. For important information, please visit our hurricane preparedness page.

Latest Updates:

As part of our preparedness efforts, DHEC has taken the following actions (updated at 3 p.m. on 09/25/2018):

  •  More than 700 DHEC staff have been dispatched as part of our emergency response efforts.
  • Our call centers have fielded more than 7,300 calls assisting the public with questions related to special medical needs, health department services and other general concerns.

DHEC Urges South Carolinians to Avoid Contact with Flood Waters:

DHEC recommends that you minimize contact with flood waters, because there are many health and safety concerns, including:

Health Concerns:

  • Infectious Diseases (e.g., tetanus, norovirus, hepatitis and TB)
  • Diarrheal Diseases
  • Wound Infections
  • Chemical Hazards (e.g., gasoline, diesel and oil from submerged vehicles)

Safety Concerns:

  • Drowning
  • Animal & Insect Bites
    • Fire ants float on flood waters and re-establish where they land
    • Snakes can be anywhere water may have carried them
    • Other wildlife (foxes, coyotes, beavers, etc.) can be relocated by flood waters
  • Electrical Hazards – Water and electricity can be a dangerous combination. When returning to flooded homes, it is important to turn the power off at the breaker box so that power isn’t restored while water is still present.
  • Sharp objects and uneven walking surfaces can be hidden by murky flood waters. Exercise care even in areas that you knew well prior to the flood.

For additional information, visit the CDC’s Flood and Standing Waters website.


Health Care Facilities:

The Department is working with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources and local emergency management officials to monitor projected flooding and ensure potentially impacted health care facilities are addressed as needed. As of Tuesday at 3 p.m., two health care facilities regulated by DHEC – South Island Assisted Living and Blue Ridge in Georgetown – have been evacuated. Additionally, the following regulated facilities are in the process of evacuating:

  • Tidelands Georgetown Memorial (by Tuesday at 5 p.m.)
    • Tidelands Georgetown Memorial will evacuate all currently admitted patients but their emergency room will remain open.
  • Oasis Residential Home (by Wednesday at 12 p.m.)

Special Medical Needs Shelters:

DHEC has 1 special medical needs shelter open to provide shelter for people whose medical conditions exceed the capabilities of the general population shelters but are not severe enough to require a hospital stay. These are individuals who live at home and have a health condition that requires specialized, electric-powered equipment or need medication that requires refrigeration. Individuals in these shelters must bring an adult caregiver with them to care for them. We do not provide health care services in these shelters. *NOTE: if you think you may need this type of shelter, please call our CARELINE at 1-855-4SC-DHEC (1-855-472-3432).

Environmental Assessments and Monitoring

DHEC conducted baseline water sampling last week for general chemistry (e.g., pH, oil, grease) and metals analyses (e.g., arsenic, lead, mercury, selenium) from the Waccamaw River and from the two coal ash ponds at the Santee Cooper Grainger Station. The Department, along with Georgetown County Water and Sewer District and Grand Strand Water and Sewer Authority, continues to monitor the conditions closely. Based on discussions with these public water utilities, they have plans in place to address any releases from Grainger Station. DHEC continues to be in contact with Santee Cooper regarding conditions at the Grainger Station.

The Department also continues to work with the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division to conduct aerial assessments of the Pee Dee River Basin and Waccamaw River to observe public drinking water plants, wastewater plants and industrial areas.

Boil Water Advisories:

As of Tuesday at 9 a.m., 1 boil water advisory for Trico Water in Dillon has been reported to DHEC.

Visit this page for tips on how to purify bacteria-contaminated water by boiling.

Private Wells:

DHEC is waiving bacteriological testing fees for private wells impacted by the flood. Residents with questions about private wells should call 1-888-761-5989. We will provide information on boiling your water, disinfecting your well, and testing your well. *NOTE: If the well was not flooded, the water quality is the same as before the flood.

Dams:

DHEC assessed 262 dams prior to the storm. The Department utilized the CodeRED system multiple times to notify more than 2,000 dam owners via voice call, text message and email. Dam owners were urged to evaluate their water levels and coordinate lowering levels with other owners downstream to avoid flooding.

DHEC and the US Army Corps of Engineers have conducted 264 post-storm assessments of regulated dams. Over the course of the heavy rain, there were several dams in the Pee Dee region that overtopped. As of 12 p.m. Monday, DHEC had confirmed 11 regulated dams had breached:

  • Lakewind (significant-hazard) – Chesterfield County
  • Crawford Pond (low-hazard) – Chesterfield County
  • Jordan Pond (significant-hazard) – Darlington County
  • Lake Darpo (low-hazard) – Darlington County
  • Springwood Lake (low-hazard) – Darlington County
  • McColl Pond (low-hazard) – Dillon County
  • Baxley 501 Pond (significant-hazard) – Marion County
  • McMeeken (low-hazard) – Marlboro County
  • McLaurins Mill Pond (significant-hazard) – Marlboro County
  • David’s Millpond (significant-hazard) – Marlboro County
  • Covington Millpond (low-hazard) – Marlboro County

NOTE: Understanding Dam Classifications

Unless exempted by law, dams regulated by DHEC are classified based on size and hazards, and must meet one of the following criteria:

  • 25 feet in height
  • impounds (holds back) 50 acre-feet or more of water
  • classified as a high-hazard dam, regardless of size

Hazard classification applies to potential loss of human life or property damage in the event of failure or improper operation of the dam or connected works.

  • High-hazard (C1) - Failure will likely cause loss of life or serious damage to infrastructure.
  • Significant-hazard (C2) - Failure will not likely cause loss of life but may damage infrastructure.
  • Low-hazard (C3) - Failure may cause limited property damage.

DHEC Office Closures:

DHEC follows the closings and delays of county offices. For example, if Beaufort County offices are closed, our health clinics and offices in the county will be closed as well. The latest information on delays and closures can be found at http://scemd.org or on local media. We will update this information here as it becomes available.

Previous Updates:

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Stay tuned to your local weather forecast and get the latest information about our preparation and response efforts by following us on Twitter and Facebook.

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Hurricanes & Floods Florence 2018