Orangeburg County Fire officials have praised the response of county fire personnel during the historic flooding rains last month.

Orangeburg County Fire System Coordinator Gene Ball said all staff at the fire commission's headquarters on U.S. 301 were on call and present during the storm.

"Our maintenance guys ... they lived on the other side of the Edisto River and they stayed over there helping the situations for the three days," Ball said. "I am not sure how much they worked. We will be turning all this into FEMA for overtime and other expenses."

Ball said the biggest challenge was the closure of Intestate 95 from I-26 to Florence.

"It resulted in major problems," Ball said. "A lot of these people were getting off the interstate and they didn't know where to go. I had numerous people come here and say, 'How do I get north?'"

Ball said he directed travelers onto U.S. 601 to Interstate 20.

"On this side, we tried to handle the best we could," Ball said.

He praised staff for taking 12-hour rotating shifts at the county's Emergency Operations Center during the flooding. The rotating shifts went on for about five days, Ball said.

None of the county's fire district buildings or fire stations were damaged by the flooding, he said.

"We built all our properties on high ground," Ball said. "We put lots of clay underneath the buildings."

Fire Advisory Board Chairman Carl Thompson said the district's firefighters were "top notch" in responding to the storm.

"We did not lose anybody and nobody got injured," Thompson said. "We did things that had to be done."

As part of the meeting's invocation, Commissioner David Funchess offered prayers for those impacted by the flooding in October and offered thanks for those emergency personnel and residents who helped others in time of need.

In other business, Ball reported that long-time commissioner Frances Davis will remain on the commission until a replacement is named by Orangeburg County Councilman Heyward Livingston. Davis has been on the Commission since its inception in 1997 and is planning to retire. He did not attend Monday's meeting.

Contact the writer: gzaleski@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5551. Check out Zaleski on Twitter at @ZaleskiTD

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Business Reporter

Gene Zaleski is a reporter/staff writer with The Times and Democrat.

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