Emergency officials in The T&D Region are planning for a closer look at the damage left by the devastating rainstorm as flood waters slowly recede.

"The river is still slowly falling. As the river continues to fall and gets down low, we should be able to get in and do damage assessments on the river. But we're still waiting on it to come on down," Orangeburg County Emergency Services Director Billy Staley said Thursday.

The damage appears to be in the flood plains and in low-lying areas that were hit early with flash floods, he said.

"We've got crews out in the Holly Hill area, and they'll be moving into the Eutawville area. We're seeing anything from minor flooding to major flooding issues and major damages to homes," Staley said. "It's going to be a continuing process."

Staley said the main concern is the drainage of water bodies into the county from Columbia.

"We were having issues where we were seeing a surge and weren't quite sure where it was coming from on the North Fork up above North. We're not sure exactly whether the additional impact to the river was from dam failures or what, but all the river seems to be consistently going down now from the upper end all the way below Branchville," he said.

Staley said he doesn't foresee any evacuations at the present time and dams are continually being monitored.

The American Red Cross shelter at Bethune-Bowman Middle/High School is closed, but Staley said, "The Red Cross is on standby if we need to open it."

On Thursday evening, the North Edisto was at 10.8 feet. Flood stage is 8 feet. The river is forecast to fall and go below flood stage after midnight Tuesday morning.

A flood warning was still in place Thursday for the North Edisto River. The warning will be in place until further notice.

Motorists are reminded to never drive through flooded areas, and pedestrians are reminded to not walk through flooded areas.

The Congaree River at DAK Americas peaked at 126.9 feet above sea level at 9 a.m. Monday. On Thursday evening, the river was at 118.8 feet. The river was forecast to fall below flood stage by early Monday morning. Flood stage is 115 feet.

The next chance for rain in The T&D Region is Friday night into Saturday. The rain chance is about 10 percent Friday night and a 50 percent Saturday.

Roads

Roads and bridges were still being inspected Thursday.

Staley urged individuals to use caution when traveling and to never remove road closure signs because "they are there for a purpose, and that's to keep you safe."

"We had a hole open up on Highway 45 Wednesday night. So we're still urging everybody to use caution as you travel on the highways," Staley said.

S.C. Department of Transportation District 7 Maintenance Engineer David Brandyburg said, "We're kind of concentrating on several fronts.

“We had some minor damage to the roads in a portion of Orangeburg, and we're trying to do some repairs. We also have some bridge assessments that need to be done,” he said.

As of Thursday afternoon, the bridge at U.S. 301 above the North Fork of the Edisto River remained closed. Brandyburg said a structural assessment must be conducted before the bridge can be reopened.

The bridge on Cleveland Street near Santee State Park collapsed and is "going to be a bridge we're going to have to repair or replace," Brandyburg said.

"That is not going to be something short term. We're going to have to get a contractor in there to see if they can repair it or whether it has to be replaced. That still has to be assessed as to exactly what can be done," he said.

Brandyburg said work on S.C. Highway 45 in Holly Hill and U.S. 601 will be a continuing process.

"It's a multipoint process. We're initially going out and accessing (Highway) 45. We're going to have to go out and try to repair this. We're trying to repair the ones that we can," Brandyburg said.

While River Road in Rowesville is structurally sound, water remains on the road and could create problems.

"We don't want to put people on the road and have a situation where somebody gets hurt. We're waiting for the water table to drop enough where water gets away from the road," he said.

In Calhoun County, portions of Church Camp Road, U.S. 601 above St. Matthews and S.C. Highway 267 remained closed.

In Orangeburg County, Hudson Road was reopened to traffic Thursday morning, but portions of Slab Landing Road and Cleveland Street remained closed.

Calhoun County

Calhoun County Emergency Services Director Bill Minikiewicz said more damage is being found across the county.

"We probably have 40 to 50 homes that have sustained some damage. I think most of the damage is light. We met with all of our fire departments, and they've been going out and looking out for other damage and needs that anybody has," Minikiewicz said.

"This is to kind of identify places where there's damage, and then we'll go out and do an actual damage assessment. For public damage, we have to meet a threshold of $53,000," he said. The heavily damaged S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control and Department of Social Services building in St. Matthews will probably meet that threshold alone.

"Tri-County Electric Cooperative tells us they had about $5,000 worth of damage that counts toward our total," Minikiewicz said.

Work to repair county roads is already being done.

"We made some temporary repairs to some of the roads just to make them a little better and get the water off, and then we'll be going out. Our public works department started making a priority list Wednesday," Minikiewicz said.

"We've got some major highways which I think the state has made a priority like 601 and 267. They're like entirely cut off and have huge holes in them, and those are our main state routes," he said.

River levels have also been a concern.

"The river is still high, but the Congaree River has flooded for hundreds of years. The people that live down on the Congaree built up on stilts and know how to deal with it. We tried to evacuate them and many of them did, but there were four families that decided to stay," Minikiewicz said.

Evacuations will not be likely, he said, particularly because river levels are expected to recede - though at a slower-than-normal pace.

"I don't believe the river is going to get any higher. Most of the water we got right away was from the Lake Murray Dam, and now we're getting all the water that's runoff from the Upstate coming down," Minikiewicz said.

Door-to-door surveys have revealed relatively mild damage, he said.

"I've had one report of a roof caved in, but it was like part of the roof and not through the whole house. I've had reports of one to two inches of water in a house. No house is completely destroyed," he said.

Minikiewicz noted that the worst flooding occurred in the Stump Hole area and on Banks Lane.

"That area has a lot of flooding, but in most of the houses that we've seen, the water is in the yard around the house, but didn't get up high enough to do any damage to our houses," he said.

Bamberg County

Bamberg County Emergency Services Director Sharon Hammond said the swelling waters of the South Edisto River have been a concern.

"We have a lot of damage down by the river. We have evacuated most of the people down there, or they left on their own. We've been calling people along the river because we're under a flash flood warning," she said.

A flood warning is in place for southeastern Orangeburg County and northern Bamberg County until 2:30 p.m. today.

"We're constantly monitoring the river levels," Hammond said, noting that a main concern is the drainage of water bodies into the county from Columbia.

"We had one person come in for individual assistance, and they had some roofing problems. We haven't heard anything from any farmers. I don't know if they're having problems. We're in a preliminary damage assessment stage," Hammond said, noting that Federal Emergency Management Agency officials visited the county Thursday to help with the assessment.

"They'll be coming in to look at these places down by the river. We also have quite a few roads that are washed out with a lot of standing water. We have a lot of problems with the dirt roads," Hammond said.

In Bamberg County, Shot's Trail Road, Sand Drag Road and Needle Road were among those flooded and with no traffic allowed on them.

When will the roads be back in service?

"It'll be a while," Hammond said.

Contact the writer: dgleaton@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5534. Follow "Good News with Gleaton" on Twitter at @DionneTandD.

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Health Reporter

Dionne Gleaton has been a staff writer with The T&D for 20 years. She has been an education reporter, regional reporter and currently writes features with an emphasis on health.

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