Residents, officials monitor Conway area river flooding as more rain is expected this weekend

troot@thesunnews.comJuly 11, 2013 

— Carla Edmonds has a canoe tied up to the front steps of her house on Waccamaw Drive.

By the weekend the boat likely will be her preferred mode of transportation to and from her home along the Waccamaw River, which was 1.6 feet above the 11-foot flood stage Thursday morning near Conway.

Edmonds waded through the copper colored floodwaters lapping over Waccamaw Drive to her vehicle Thursday morning and said it was the worse she’s seen there since 1999’s Hurricane Floyd.

“At first there was a little bit in the yard, but now it’s all around, under the house,” Edmonds said, whose house was raised after Floyd. “Thank goodness we raised the house up since Floyd or it’d be in it.”

After Hurricane Floyd, floodwaters from the Waccamaw River swelled to 17.61 feet before it crested on Sept. 27, 1999.

But flooding isn’t expected to reach those levels this weekend before the river starts to fall, officials said. A flood watch was issued until 8 p.m. Friday for Conway and emergency officials are monitoring the amount of rainfall expected Friday and Saturday and its impact on the situation.

“Rainfall amounts of one to three inches possible with isolated higher amounts,” said Michael Caropolo, the meteorologist-in-charge at the National Weather Service in Wilmington, N.C. “Five area rivers are already in flood stage and are receding but will be impacted by the additional rainfall.”

Flooding from the Waccamaw River and the Little Pee Dee River are affecting several Horry County residents, and officials are monitoring the conditions, said Carissa Medeiros, Horry County’s Emergency Management deputy director.

“We are concerned and are in the process of contingency planning with public safety for any response, if needed,” she said Thursday afternoon. “This is not an isolated event in South Carolina. There are other counties with flooding.”

Another concern is that during the last 30 days, the area has received up to 15 inches of rain in spots and the ground is saturated, Caropolo said.

As of Thursday morning, the recording station in North Myrtle Beach had logged 32.17 inches of rainfall since Jan. 1, which is 8.35 inches above normal, forecasters said. Last year during the same time period, the area received 16.38 inches.

Officials closed portions of Red Bluff Road, Old Reeves Ferry Road, Lee’s Landing Road and Depot Road in Conway because of flooding. Other roads in Savannah Bluff and Pitch Landing were covered with water from swampland flooding.

J.M. Edwards, who lives along Pitch Landing, was using a stick to monitor the river’s rise Thursday. He measured a quarter inch increase in a few hours on Thursday.

“It’s the highest I’ve seen it since I’ve been down here,” said Edwards, who built his house in 2007 and put it a foot above the 100-year flood stage mark left by Floyd.

Edwards packed up his lawnmower and other valuables into a trailer that is hitched to his pickup truck. He said he’s ready to go to his other home in the county if the water rises too much.

“The road is my whole concern, traveling out,” Edwards said. “You never know when it’s going to come up on you.”

Edwards worked on a wood project under his shed Thursday, while his grandchildren, 12-year-old Walker Martin and 5-year-old Logan Martin, waded and played in the floodwaters invading the yard.

“I think it’s cool,” Walker Martin said with a smile standing in ankle deep water.

As Edwards returned to his project, he smiled and said, “I’m not worried.”

Contact TONYA ROOT at 444-1723 or follow her at Twitter.com/tonyaroot.

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