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Start doing this now to avoid Hurricane Florence flooding, SC officials warn

Floodwaters rush over a dam on Forest Lake in Columbia, S.C., in this 2015 photo. State officials in South Carolina are warning dam and pond owners to lower water levels before a possible hit from Hurricane Florence this week.
Floodwaters rush over a dam on Forest Lake in Columbia, S.C., in this 2015 photo. State officials in South Carolina are warning dam and pond owners to lower water levels before a possible hit from Hurricane Florence this week. AP

State and local emergency officials are urging local pond and dam owners to begin lowering their water levels ahead of a possible hit from Hurricane Florence.

The state of South Carolina is preparing for some sort of impact from the hurricane, which became a Category 4 storm Monday.

Winds from a hurricane can topple trees, causing large voids where trees were uprooted, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control said in a release. Loss of soil from a dam can affect its structural integrity and provide a path for water to exit in an uncontrolled manner, possibly leading to failure.

“Owners of reservoirs with functional gates or flashboards should consider operating them to provide additional storage for the anticipated rainfall,” said Jill Stewart, director of DHEC’s dam safety and stormwater permitting division, said in the release. “If there is a dam downstream of your dam and you are lowering your water level, please call the owner of that dam to advise him or her about what you are doing. Before and after the storm has passed, any accumulated trash and debris should be cleared from spillways.”

Lexington County emergency officials also urged local pond and dam owners to begin lowering water levels Monday.

The county Emergency Operations Center increased its operational readiness to Condition 4, which is the second lowest response level above day-to-day operations, according to the release.

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