Major flooding conditions in Colleton County

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By HEATHER WALTERS 

The Edisto River broke its banks over the weekend, swelling to more than 14-feet on Saturday. 

The National Weather Service issued flood warnings to the Colleton County community last week, saying the recent heavy and consistent rains were filling the river well past its breaking point. 

As of Feb. 16, the Edisto River had reached the minor food stage at 10.8 feet. 

As of Saturday, Feb. 20, the river was listed at 14.8 feet, almost hitting the “major flooding level” that occurs when the river swells to 15-feet high, according to The National Weather Service (NWS). 

The river’s flooding caused many acres of private property located along the Edisto to be overcome with water. Colleton County Fire-Rescue firefighter-paramedics did courtesy checks on Saturday of residents who live along the Edisto. 

“We do these checks each year, when the river rises and causes flooding. When it gets exceptionally bad, both county agencies, as well as S.C. DNR put boats into the water,” said Barry McRoy, chief of Colleton County Fire-Rescue. 

In addition to courtesy checks, fire-rescue personnel also routinely survey the area around the rising waters. This includes checking road conditions in several areas of Colleton County, including Green Pond, the Prices Bridge area, along the Edisto River Corridor in northern Colleton County and in the areas around the Combahee River. 

“We have to know where we can get in and out of in case we respond to an emergency. It’s much better to know ahead of time so we can send the appropriate equipment/units to reach the people,” said McRoy. “We have had various units checking the roads all week.

“Water levels are close to the flood lines that we had in the 2015 flood,” said McRoy, on Saturday. Rains stopped in the Lowocuntry on Sunday, with mostly sunny skies expected throughout the greater Lowcountry region this week. 

“Although there are a number of boats on roadways and next to houses, the half-dozen residents that we spoke with along Augusta Hwy (SC Hwy 61) stated that they were okay,” he said. 

The Colleton County Sheriff’s Office has not yet had any water rescue calls this year for residents who live along the Edisto River, according to Shalane Lowes, spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office. This data was as of Monday morning. 

However, the sheriff’s office did assist the Walterboro Police Department and Colleton County Fire-Rescue on Friday, Feb. 19, when several people living in apartments near Ireland Creek had to be assisted from their houses at Ivanhoe Apartments. 

According to McRoy, there was approximately 3-feet of water at the entrance to the apartments. 

To help in these efforts, the CCSO used its high-water vehicle to help assist residents out of the apartments. “Firefighters and Law Enforcement officers from all four agencies used hip waders to walk into the apartments and assist the residents. The residents were ecacuated to the high-water vehicle and driven out to higher ground,” said McRoy. 

According to the National Weather Service, local officials are asked to take action when the Edisto River hits the 7-foot mark. The NWS also states that the river is considered to be in a “moderate flood zone” at 10-feet. A “major flood” begins at 11.5 feet, the NWS states. 

The most recent crest of the Edisto happened on Nov. 12 of 2020, when it hit 8.41 feet. Last year brought multiple “crests” of the Edisto, with the river rising above its standard of 7-feet-deep at least nine times in 2020. However, the most historic flooding event recorded along the Edisto River is when she rose to 14.7 feet. This was documented on Sept. 1, 1928. 

The lowest depth ever recorded came in at .87-feet deep, on August 13, 2002.

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