The state’s emergency management hub is operating around the clock, preparing to send help to communities dealing with flash flooding and heavy rains.
Late Thursday, Gov. Nikki Haley declared a state of emergency in preparation for expected flooding and other impacts from Hurricane Joaquin and another storm over the Palmetto State.
The Management Division, located in Pine Ridge, southeast of Columbia, will be staffed 24 hours a day until the severe weather passes. The agency is the state’s command center, where state and federal agencies coordinate responses to severe weather incidents and disasters.
The governor urged residents in vulnerable areas to “review their plans.” Residents and visitors should monitor the storm through news media and state agencies online.
“We have already had one death associated with flooding in the Upstate,” Stenson said Friday. “The heaviest rainfall is still to come.”
National Guard prepared to respond
The S.C. National Guard is working closely with the Emergency Management Division, sharing information about preparations and weather advisories, according to public affairs officer Lt. Col. Cindi King.
As of midday Friday, no Guard assets have been requested, King said.
“However, we are prepared to provide whatever assets are needed,” she said. “Most important would be Army aviation helicopters and debris removal.”
Among the assets available are: Bridging capabilities, a helicopter aquatic rescue team, airborne search and rescue, security and evacuation support, airborne transport and water purification.
In addition, a warning order has been issued to all Guard members to be aware of the situation, and “those that have assets to be on standby,” she said.
Electric utilities on call
SCE&G is in full preparation mode for whatever weather-related problems Hurricane Joaquin may present to customers, the utility said Friday.
Some power outages had already been reported on James Island, where saturated ground caused a tree to fall on Thursday, knocking out power. Service was restored, said Ginny Jones, SCANA spokeswoman.
Extra equipment is ready to handle problems if outages occur, and extra personnel are also on standby, Jones said.
Floods don't necessarily cause power outages – high winds are a more likely culprit – but the hurricane is an added factor to an already busy weather cycle, Jones said.
SCE&G is in touch with other utilities in the Southeast, and is prepared to have more people come in to the area if needed, or to send SCE&G personnel to other areas if that need help, Jones said.
The utility activated its Saluda Hydro plant on Lake Murray to lower the water level in preparation for the expected rainfall, Jones said.
The goal is to keep the water level under 360 feet. The company serves approximately 695,000 electric customers in South Carolina and approximately 1.3 million natural gas customers in South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia.
The Charlotte utility is ready to respond, depending on what develops over the next few days, according Ryan Mosier, Duke Energy spokesman in South Carolina. Duke Energy has utility customers in six states in the Southeast and Midwest, and serves 730,000 electric customers in South Carolina in the Upstate and Pee Dee regions.
The utility is in a heightened state of awareness, making sure all trucks are fully fueled and fully stocked with materials needed in the event of an outage or other circumstances, said Susan Mungo, Santee Cooper spokeswoman in Myrtle Beach.
The Myrtle Beach area is not expected to take a direct hit from Hurricane Joaquin, but because the ground there is so saturated, falling trees could bring down power lines and cause power outages.
Santee Cooper serves 173,627 retail customers in Berkeley, Horry and Georgetown counties. The company also supplies electricity to the state’s 20 electric cooperatives, along with Bamberg, Georgetown and Saluda counties.