PICKENS COUNTY, SC (WSPA) – As Hurricane Ian prepares to make landfall, Pickens County is getting ready now, especially in flood-prone areas.
“On the plus side, we haven’t had a great deal of rain on the front end. So, we’ve been in a little bit of a moderate drought. So, the creeks and rivers are not up quite as much as they could be,” said Billy Gibson, Director of Pickens County Emergency Services. “They’ll be able to take a little bit more of runoff, than they would be, if we had heavy rain for the past few days.”
“So, the areas that we will be concentrating more on, will be the low lying areas around the Saluda River, up in the upper part of the county,” he said.
“We’ve got several campgrounds and homes that are near some of our creeks that feed into the Saluda and City Lake and some areas like that,” Gibson said. “So, any of our homes or areas that are close to those small tributaries, will be the place we’ll be focusing on, and keeping an eye on most. As you recall back in February of 2020, we had a monumental historical flooding here in the county, and those were the areas that we tend to see impacted the most–and so those will be the ones we will concentrate on most.”
Gibson said they are continuing to track the storm.
“We’re getting regular updates through the National Weather Service and keeping an eye out on the latest models to determine exactly the track that it’ll take,” Gibson said. “The biggest thing is going to be the timing. Right now, the storm seems to be slowing up and of course when it slows up, that rain stays put for awhile and that’s where we see the areas that are more prone to flooding start experiencing that.”
“It could dump a lot of water in a short amount of time over top of us, is something people should take seriously,” Gibson said.
Dennis Reinert’s backyard in the Quail Haven subdivision was completely flooded during historic flooding of 2020.
“When it happens, it happens very fast. The creek comes up very fast. It’s not like a very gradual thing. You can watch coming up, it’s so fast,” Reinert said.
“I live in a floodplain. It’s always ready. A storm could come any time. It doesn’t have to be hurricane season,” Reinert said.
Gibson said crews have already been preparing.
“Some of the things that we’re doing again–is making sure that we are keeping our team advised with the weather briefings, but also our Special Operations Teams, as well as our fire departments are already making sure that equipment is in a state of readiness, so that if it’s needed, it’s ready to be deployed in a moments notice,” Gibson said.
“We do advise people to keep an eye out on the weather personally. If they live in the more flood-prone areas, to be ready to evacuate, if that should become necessary,” Gibson said. “One of the things that our roads and bridges crews are actually doing is, we’re making sure that our culverts, and ditches and things like that, are cleared out of debris as much as they possibly can be.”
Reinert is encouraging his neighbors and others to get ready too.
“I hope they started filling their sandbags because I’d expect that it’s going to,” Reinert said. “You should always be prepared for an emergency,” he said.
“You don’t wait until it happens to do something about it, you always got to be ready for it,” Reinert said.
Gibson also provided advice for those who have been impacted by a storm in Pickens County before.
“There may be still a few homes out there that do have roof damage. Now, is the time to be prepared with tarping if the roof is leaking. Even if you haven’t had storm damage, if in the past the rains that we have had that you’ve had some leaks, now is the time to look into those by taking temporary measures, because we do know we have the potential for a lot of rain in a short amount of time, and that leak is possibly going to get worst,” Gibson said.
“Another aspect that we would like for our citizens to keep in mind, is that we do have the potential for not just the flooding but also the severe weather. We could see winds probably around the 15 to 20 mile per hour mark. Wind gusts higher than that. We know that we’re prone for trees to come down on power lines, and things of that nature which causes power outages, so folks need to be prepared for that. Have cell phones charged up ahead of time [and] any medications they may need,” Gibson said.