Nearly 81 percent of the S.C. roads closed because of Hurricane Matthew have reopened, Transportation Department officials said Thursday.
Ninety-two roads and bridges remained closed because of the storm, down from 481 road and bridge closings 10 days ago, at the peak of the storm’s aftermath.
“We’ve become experts in dealing with disaster,” said Transportation Commission head Mike Wooten, who represents areas hard-hit by the storm, including parts of Florence, Dillon, Horry and Marion counties.
Hurricane Matthew’s powerful winds blew down power lines and trees, blocking roads. In addition, the storm’s torrential rain caused rivers to overflow, flooding homes and roads in the Pee Dee.
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Of the 92 closures Thursday, 75 are roads and 17 are bridges.
The Transportation Department still was advising motorists Thursday to use caution when driving in areas that have not been assessed. Safety hazards still exist in those areas, officials said.
Previous weather-related incidents — including the 2014 ice storm and 2015’s historic flooding — prepared state transportation crews to reopen roads this year, Wooten said.
About a third of the remaining closed roads and bridges are expected to be reopened by Thanksgiving, said roads chief Christy Hall. Another third will be opened after Thanksgiving, she said. Transportation crews have not been able to assess the final third. Some still are under water, she said.
Hall anticipates having a cost estimate of the damage to roads and bridges within the next month. Even after receiving federal aid money, it cost the Transportation Department $37 million to repair S.C. roads after the 2015 flood.
Donations sought for Transportation Department workers
SC Cares, a private, nonprofit organization, is accepting donations for state Transportation Department workers whose homes were damaged during Hurricane Matthew. Donations are being accepted Tuesday and Thursday from 7 to 10 a.m. at the Transportation Department’s headquarters at 955 Park St. Donations being accepted include:
▪ Money or gift cards, including to Lowe’s, Walmart, grocery stores and Visa
▪ Toiletry items, including deodorant, toothpaste, tooth brushes, shampoo, soap
▪ Paper products
▪ Cleaning items
▪ Appliances, including refrigerators, microwaves, stoves and toasters