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SC urges owners to lower dam levels ahead of Hurricane Sally

SC urges owners to lower dam levels ahead of Hurricane Sally

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COLUMBIA (AP) — South Carolina environmental officials are urging owners and operators of reservoirs across the state to be ready to handle potentially heavy rainfall in the coming days as Hurricane Sally makes landfall and drenches inland areas.

The Department of Health and Environmental Control on Tuesday said the agency had performed "pre-hurricane season assessments of all dams of concern."

In issuing guidance, Jill Stewart, director of DHEC's Dam Safety and Stormwater Permitting Division, said owners should also notify anyone operating a dam downstream of their property if they are lowering water levels, and also clear trash and debris from spillways.

In 2015, more than 40 dams across the state failed in devastating floods that stranded homeowners and forced some into recreational boats to rescue neighbors. The historic rain and flooding led to 19 deaths and caused about $2 billion in damage.

A year later, Hurricane Matthew caused about 25 more dams to fail and another round of flooding.

After Matthew, South Carolina's environmental agency requested more than $5 million to stabilize or tear down damaged dams and inspect others. State lawmakers also gave the agency $3 million to boost dam safety.

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