Hurricane Florence Response

Published Dec. 12, 2018
Transporting Hesco Barriers

Charleston District liaison officer Tommy Fennel stands on Highway 501 next to the Hesco barriers protecting the road from flood waters watching transport vehicles deliver more barriers and sand to keep the critical highway open.

Hurricane Florence barreled toward the east coast of the United States at a historically slow pace for weeks before making landfall on Wrightsville Beach, N.C. on September 14, 2018. The coastline of South Carolina was spared the direct force of Hurricane Florence, however impacts were felt throughout the state for weeks after due to extreme flooding.

The path of Hurricane Florence was unprecedented. The storm collided with the coast in North Carolina and stalled against a high pressure front that caused Florence to come to a standstill over Wilmington. Once Hurricane Florence did move, it dropped southwest after having traveled northwest for weeks. This took the path of the storm down into South Carolina, where it crawled along at less than five miles per hour for its duration in the state.

While the storm stalled, the rain did not. Hurricane Florence dumped more than 20 inches of rain in many parts of upper South Carolina and lower North Carolina over several days. Many homes were destroyed from the effects of wind and downed trees and more than 50 people were killed. In South Carolina, the biggest impacts came in the weeks after Hurricane Florence had inched out of the state.

The historic rain bested the previous rain levels that had occurred during the 1,000 Year Flood just two years prior. Rain inundation throughout the state caused river levels to rise to heights never before seen and that water had to work its way to the coast. As tributaries rushed water to the Waccamaw, the Black, the Lumber, the Lynches, the Pee Dee and the Little Pee Dee Rivers levels slowly rose and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was there to help.

Throughout this issue, you will learn all about the missions that the Charleston District undertook and about the partnerships that made them work. The Charleston District Emergency Management Division coordinated efforts throughout the state with the help of volunteers and successfully handled all the issues that were presented to them. We’ve structured this issue of the Palmetto Castle to tell you about the various post-hurricane response activities that the Charleston District undertook and the partnerships that were utilized.

Hurricane Florence response was a joint effort throughout the state and could not have been successful without the help the Charleston District received from other Corps districts, the South Carolina Army National Guard, the South Carolina Department of Transportation, FEMA and state and local agencies. Team South Carolina was on full display after Hurricane Florence and provides lessons for the future.