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Rains bring record floods, rescues. ‘It just didn’t quit.’

This breach in U.S. 701 near Allsbrook in Horry County claimed a vehicle, an Horry County Emergency Management Facebook post said. It’s the same section of highway that failed during flooding from Hurricane Matthew in 2016. (Jenn Boyd, TLT)



Monday 12:45 p.m.

     It seemed, late Sunday, that Hurricane Florence, had been relatively kind to the Tabor-Loris Community, by then downgraded to a tropical depression, her center far from the area.

     She had other ideas.

     “I have never in 66 years seen anything like it,” Loris Fire Chief  Jerry Hardee said Monday. “About 10:30 last night we were good, the ditches were in good shape, the city was draining good. Everything looked good.”

     That changed with a call to Heritage Road, a tree in the roadway.

     “I saw some of the worse lighting I have ever witnessed in my life,” Hardee said. “About 11 we came back to the station, and the bottom fell out. It rained so hard that within 10 minutes I had water coming across the street, we had to drop the doors to keep water out of the station.

     “It just didn’t quit. It kept on and on. Just when I’d say ‘It can’t rain no harder,’ it would.”

     Then the water rescue calls started, at first from homes with a long history of flooding in exceptionally wet weather.

Evacuees at the emergency shelter at the Loris Public Safety Building Monday. (Jenn Boyd, TLT)

     “Then we started getting calls to places we’ve never had problems before,” Hardee said.

     A South Carolina National Guard crew with a high-wheel vehicle joined Loris firefighters on those calls, that rapidly grew.

     “We had five units out at the time,” Hardee said. “This went on to daylight.”

     Hardee said his crews responded to so many calls he lost accurate count, estimating the total at from 75 to 100 in a little more than six hours.

     An American Red Cross shelter at Loris High School had closed earlier in the day, city officials opened an emergency shelter at the Public Safety Building during the night, eventually housing about 40 people.

     Loris Chamber of Commerce Executive Samantha Norris and Vice President Jenn Boyd, also of this newspaper, took 40 sandwiches to evacuees Thursday morning.

An air boat on the way for rescue missions was allowed through the flood waters streaming across the U.S. 701 bridge at the Lake Tabor dam Monday morning. (Deuce Niven, TLT)


     For a time Monday morning there was no way into Tabor City, street flooding blocking every entrance, including US 701 near Lake Tabor, where water rushed over the dam and over the highway, nearly over the guardrails.

     Police and NC Department of Transportation officials stopped traffic at the bridge for a time, but as the water level dropped, traffic was allowed to cross.

     Despite the record flood, repairs to the dam damaged by Hurricane Matthew in 2016 held, Town Manager Al Leonard said.

     “We did a visual inspection, and have been in touch with the state and our consulting engineers, the initial reaction is that the dam held,” Leonard said.

     Capt. Greg Sibbett of the Tabor City Police Department took video of water running completely over the dam during, Leonard said.

     “That did not happen during Matthew,” Leonard said.

     Public Works Director Donald James said his measurements indicated flood levels in town five inches higher than during Hurricane Matthew, Leonard said.

     Leonard said the Sunday not deluge was a surprise.

     “At 8:30 last night I thought we were going to basically get through this,” Leonard said. “Then the rain came.”

Tin in the tree, damage to a mobile home rooftop on Spivey Ward Drive north of Tabor City following Sunday night’s tornado. (Deuce Niven, TLT)


     Mobile homes and storage buildings along and near Spivey Ward Drive off of US 701 north of South Columbus High School were casualties, but not major, of an apparent tornado touchdown Sunday night.

     Tornado warnings that began in Horry County and moved into Columbus took place several times during the night and into Monday morning. There were no reports of related injuries.

Pireway Place

     North Carolina National Guard troops and Fair Bluff Fire/Rescue crews waded through waist deep water at Pireway Place Apartments to evacuate 15 residents during the storm, as tornado warnings were underway.

     “We had six National Guard trucks, all deployed during the night,” FBFR Assistant Chief Ken Elliott said. “We deployed that water rescue boat to five missions, all in the Tabor City area.

Fair Bluff flooding begins

     Record flooding is forecast for Fair Bluff in the coming day or two, Elliott said. As of Monday morning waters were rising behind business, “across from Circle Up and just shy of coming into Main Street,” Elliott said. “It’s not going to be long.”

Stay home

     Highways across the area are dangerous, especially at night, Elliott said.

     “If you don’t need to be out on the highways at night, don’t,” Elliott said.

     Many of the water rescues taking place in the Tabor-Loris Community Sunday into Monday were for people stranded in vehicles in high water.


     Power outages in Columbus County had dwindled Monday, with Brunswick Electric Membership Corp reporting 11 percent of its customers without power, apparently including a few who had power restored before the tornado Sunday night.

     Duke Energy was reporting more than 12,000 of its 16,542 customers in the county still without power at noon Monday.


     Loris City Hall sustained damage from the floodwaters overnight, and will be closed until further notice an email from city government said.

     “We have no exact answers to any questions as to when or where we will reopen,” the email said. “Bare with us and we will provide these answers as soon as they become available.”

     Courts in Columbus County will be closed for at least the rest of this week, Clerk of Court Jess Hill reported.

     Public schools in Columbus County are closed through at least Wednesday, in Horry County closed today, though extensions for both seemed likely.

     Updates will be posted here as events warrant and as is possible, with complete coverage in the next Tabor-Loris Tribune in print and online.

Water rises on the Lumber River at Fair Bluff Sunday afternoon. Forecasters expect those waters to overrun the NC 904 bridge. (Deuce Niven, TLT)

Monday 2 a.m.

     “Multiple water rescue evacuations across the City of Loris” have prompted a significant response from the Loris Fire Department, Horry County Fire Rescue, and the South Carolina National Guard, LFD Fire Marshal Robert Rudelitch said.

     Similar water rescue evacuations involving multiple resources in and around Tabor City included the evacuation of Pireway Place Apartments in the early morning, rescues of people caught in homes as water poured in, and motorists caught in rising waters on flooded roadways.

     About 15 Pireway Place residents were taken to the American Red Cross shelter at South Columbus High School in the early morning, as were others from several locations displaced by the flood waters.

     North Carolina National Guard high clearance vehicles staged at the temporary Fair Bluff Fire/Rescue station in Fair Bluff, with an ambulance and support vehicle from FBFR, assisted with the Pireway Place evacuation.

     Water was reportedly over Peacock Road at FM Watts Road, with a nearby resident also evacuated; and there was an unconfirmed report that Peacock Road at AD Hinson Road had washed out.

     An emergency shelter was established at the Loris Public Safety Building for evacuees there, Rudelitch said.

     Updates will be posted here as events warrant and as is possible, with complete coverage in the next Tabor-Loris Tribune in print and online.

Sunday 11:45 p.m.

     A tornado touchdown in the Sidney area, severe flooding in southern Columbus County that accompanied severe thunderstorms a relentless rain were parting salvos from Hurricane Florence in the Tabor-Loris Community late Sunday.

     Tornado warnings were also issued for much of central Horry County, including the Loris area, though there were no immediate reports of touchdowns.

     Several homes in the area of Spivey Ward Drive were reported with damage as a result of the tornado touchdown. Some Brunswick Electric Membership Corporation customers in the area also lost power. Most had power restored Saturday evening after losing service as a result of the hurricane.

     Fire and EMS call responses in broad sections of the county were delayed as flood waters made roads impassable, and as weather conditions made travel treacherous.

     NC 904 east of Tabor City was flooded and impassible late Sunday, the Tabor City Fire Department reported.

     Tabor City Fire Department was able to rescue motorists stranded in high water in a car on Stake Road about 11:30 p.m.

     Rising waters in several areas in and around Tabor City brought water into homes and prompted evacuation requests. National Guard high profile vehicles were responding to one evacuation call after Roseland Fire Department trucks were unable to get through the high water.

     A tornado watch was issued for Columbus County late Sunday, set to expire at 5 a.m. Monday.

     Updates will be posted here as events warrant and as is possible, with complete coverage in the next Tabor-Loris Tribune in print and online.

Sunday 7:30 p.m.

     Forecasts for flooding greater than Hurricane Matthew in 2016 made for an easy decision for residents of Nichols and Fair Bluff issued evacuation orders Sunday.

     At least 75 percent of the people who still live in areas flooded by Matthew in Fair Bluff heeded an evacuation order from Mayor Billy Hammond Sunday, Fair Bluff Fire/Rescue crews involved in notifying those residents said.

     Busses sitting at the Hill’s Parking lot to take evacuees in need of shelter elsewhere to South Columbus High School sat vacant, drivers and Columbus County Sheriff’s deputies left waiting.

     “They’ve packed up and gotten out,” FBFR member Beverly Elliott said.

     That’s largely been the story in Nichols, with Arista Snipes one of only four residents staying behind, even as Duke Energy crews cut powers to the town Sunday afternoon.

     “We had one of the few properties that didn’t experience water in the house,” Snipes said of her experience during Hurricane Matthew. “I was raised on the water and I am comfortable not leaving.”

     Vernon Pajaro had also decided to ride out the flood in Nichols, until his wife, a nurse practitioner, convinced him to join her with their family elsewhere. He started loading up his SUV with the family pets and a few sentimental items at about 2 p.m. Sunday.

     “Twice the Sheriff’s Department, along with the National Guard, knocked on our door asking us to please leave,” Pajaro said. “I wasn’t leaving.”

     Reports of water on the way from Lumberton, “and seeing Duke Energy physically turning off the electricity fuses, I knew then it was serious,” Pajaro said. “Nichols is completely out of power. It’s time to leave.”

     Flooding in Lumberton began Sunday. Donnie Douglas, Editor of The Robesonian newspaper in that city, said his offices were again nondonated with flood waters Sunday, much like Matthew, and that he expected flooding downstream worse than in 2016.

     Butch Pace, who owned Pace’s Pharmacy in Nichols for years before 2016, never reopened after the floodwaters from Matthew claimed his store. He said he expects flood waters from Lumberton in Nichols Monday.

     “In around 20 hours, we were flooded,” Pace said. “The entire town was under water, except for a few high spots. We were not prepared. We were fortunate we own a place at the beach that is now our residence.”

Power line work on Stake Road at East 5th Street Sunday. (Deuce Niven, TLT)


     Power restoration in Horry County was largely complete Sunday, with much work to be done in Columbus County.

     Brunswick Electric Membership Corporation had power restored to all but 17 percent of its customers in Columbus County at 7 p.m. Sunday, Duke Energy reported 15,950 of its 16,542 customers in Columbus still without power.

     Power crews had to replace a main transmission line into Tabor City, work that was completed late Sunday afternoon, Capt. Greg Sibbett of the Tabor City Police Department said. That work required police to shut down U.S. 701 Bypass while new lines were pulled across the highway.

     Work cutting fallen trees away from downed power lines and repairing those issues began in Tabor City Sunday, and it appeared that many in town would see power restored sometime late Sunday or early Monday.


     In Columbus County American Red Cross Shelters remain operational at South Columbus and West Columbus high schools, Guideway Elementary and Whiteville Edgewood Elementary, the later the only pet friendly shelter and at last report at capacity.

     The shelter at East Columbus High was closed Saturday due to flooding, evacuees moved to a new shelter at the Whiteville Recreation Center.

Stay parked

     With road closings growing as a result of flooding, NC Department of Transportation leaders Sunday asked that people stay home unless necessary.

     “Unless you are evacuating, stay in place,” said Transportation Secretary Jim Trogdon. “Road conditions are changing rapidly with the rising waters and you could endanger yourself and those responding to the storm.”

Solid Waste

     It was not clear Sunday when garbage collection would return to normal schedules in Columbus County, while the outlook in Horry seemed brighter.

     Recycling centers in many areas of Horry County were open Sunday, including Loris, Longs and Red Bluff, and all of the county’s centers were expected to resume normal operating hours Monday, “depending on weather and road conditions,” a county news release said.

     Updates will be posted here as events warrant and as is possible, with complete coverage in the next Tabor-Loris Tribune in print and online.

Tree and power crews arrive in Tabor City Sunday morning. (Deuce Niven, TLT)

Sunday 11:45 a.m.

      Nichols has been largely evacuated, an urgent evacuation getting underway in Fair Bluff beginning at noon today in anticipation or flooding that could rival or surpass that of Hurricane Matthew 23 months ago, Fair Bluff Fire/Rescue Assistant Chief Ken Elliott said.

     “We are monitoring the Lumber River,” Elliott said. “It’s four to five feet of minor flooding currently.”

     Fair Bluff Mayor Billy Hammond has issued a voluntary evacuation order for the town, a similar order issued by county government for nearby areas that were flooded during Matthew, Elliott said.

     FBFR crews with two ambulances and a brush truck will be going door-to-door this afternoon, ending at dusk, making sure residents are aware of the voluntary evacuation order.

     Those willing to evacuate, and without transportation, will be taken to the Hill’s parking lot in Fair Bluff, where school busses will be waiting to take evacuees to the American Red Cross Shelter at South Columbus High School, Elliott said.

     That will include those who are oxygen dependent and have other at-home medical needs, Elliott said.

     “South Columbus can take all of the 150 people that we are predicting,” Elliott said.

     FBFR will have assistance from the North Carolina National Guard, units arriving before noon, Elliott said.

     State Rep. Brenden Jones was also at the Fair Bluff Command Post at the National Guard Armory, Elliott said.

     “Brenden has been a help,” Elliott said. “He’s assisted in getting us resources.”


     Horry County Schools will be closed Monday, with a decision on when to re-open dependent on direction from the governor, school district spokeswoman Lisa Bourcier said.

     Columbus County Schools will be closed at least through Wednesday, with a decision on reopening pending.

     Southeastern Community College will be closed at least through Wednesday.

     Columbus County government offices will be closed Monday, with a decision on future days pending.

     Courts in Columbus County will be closed at least through Wednesday, Clerk of Court Jess Hill said.


     At 11 a.m. Florence was picking up forward speed, moving north/northwest at 10 miles per hour with maximum winds of 35 miles per hour, the National Weather Service reported.

     Radar indicated most, if not all of the rain from Florence had moved away from the Tabor-Loris Community.

Sewer pumping units

     Homes connected to pressurized sewer lines, including some Grand Strand Water & Sewer Authority customers, need to limit water usage during a power outage, the utility says.

     When the power is out, the sewer pump is off, too, the utility said in a news release. Water service, however, is not impacted by a power outage.

     “A typical residential pumping unit holds about 70 gallons,” the news release said. “Once power is restored to the home, the pumping unit will return to normal operating conditions.”

     Updates will be posted here as events warrant and as is possible, with complete coverage in the next Tabor-Loris Tribune in print and online.

Sunday 6:30 a.m.

     Water rescues were common in various locations across Columbus County during the night Saturday into Sunday as incessant rains from Hurricane Florence, downgraded during the night from tropical storm status to a tropical depression, continued to dump tons of rainfall onto the region, her impacts expected to be long lasting and far reaching.

     Major flooding continued to be forecast on the Lumber and Waccamaw Rivers, records levels in Lumberton as early as today, in Conway in a week to ten days.

     Fair Bluff Fire Rescue Assistant Chief Ken Elliott said that while the NWS had not issued a specific forecast for Lumberton, its officials had warned that flooding there could top that of Hurricane Matthew less than two years ago. Most of that river town’s downtown and hundreds of homes remain vacant 23 months after that storm.

     FBFR crews were scheduled to begin evacuating residents without transportation to shelters at noon today, ending at dusk due to safety concerns.

     Water rescues were most common in the Hallsboro and White Marsh areas, and in the city of Whiteville, The News Reporter reported. Madison Street was flooded as Soules Swamp breached its banks in fashion similar to that during Matthew.


     Shelters were expected to take an increasing number of evacuees Sunday, with the exception of Whiteville’s Edgewood Elementary which has been at capacity for days.

     The shelter at East Columbus High was closed Saturday due to flooding there, an emergency shelter at the Whiteville Rec Center taking those people and others, despite a lack of power or water, The News Reporter said.

More rain

     Good news early Sunday, rare during the storm, was that the forward speed of Florence had increased from a snail’s crawl of 2 miles per hour during most of Saturday to 8 miles per hour early Sunday, headed nearly due west.

     Still, the storm was expected to dump an additional 4 to 6 inches of rain on the Tabor-Loris Community, a NWS map released just before 6:30 a.m. Sunday showed.


     Power outages remained widespread, Brunswick Electric reporting about 55 percent of its customers in Columbus County still in the dark near daybreak Sunday, virtually all of Duke Energy’s customers in the county still without power.

     A Duke Energy outage map said an update on power restoration would not come until Monday afternoon.

     Spectrum TV, telephone and Internet service was out, at least in the Tabor City area.

     Updates will be posted here as events warrant and as is possible, with complete coverage in the next Tabor-Loris Tribune in print and online.

Saturday 8 p.m.

     Hurricane Florence has claimed a Loris couple, the immediate cause of death carbon monoxide poisoning from a generator used to power their home, Horry County Deputy Coroner Tamara Willard said Saturday.

     Mark Carter King, 63, and Debra Collins Rion, 61, died in their home on Scenic Drive near Loris, Willard said. Their bodies were found at 7:45 p.m. Friday, Willard said.

     There have now been 10 hurricane related deaths in South Carolina, an equal number in North Carolina.

     Updates will be posted here as events warrant and as is possible, with complete coverage in the next Tabor-Loris Tribune in print and online.

Tabor City firefighters rescue Porche James, her children Teondra James and Junior Sanders, from flooding on Miller Road. (Deuce Niven, TLT)


Saturday 5:30 p.m.

     Get out now, if you live in flood prone areas in Columbus County.

     That’s the word from emergency leaders in Fair Bluff and in county government, as rainfall amounts forecast from Hurricane, now Tropical Storm Florence have at least mast expectations from Friday, the National Weather Service is reporting.

     Both the Waccamaw and Lumber rivers are expected to reach major flood stage in the coming days, possibly record breaking, the NWS said.

     Fair Bluff Fire/Rescue Assistant Chief Ken Elliott said firefighters are asking that anyone in flood prone areas get out, with the expected crest of the Lumber River at Lumberton predicted at 24.9 feet.

     “This is higher than with Hurricane Matthew in 2016,” Elliott said. “The National Weather Service has not issued a prediction for the Lumber River in Fair Bluff BUT they are advising us that the flooding in Fair Bluff will be equal to the flooding from Hurricane Matthew if not worse.

     For the residents of Fair Bluff that were flooded due to Hurricane Matthew, we are suggesting for you to plan on leaving prior to this disaster. The Lumber River will rise quickly again and it will be swift moving water so you need to plan to evacuate prior to this event in order for you to safely evacuate.

     “For people wishing to evacuate that do not have transportation Fair Bluff Fire & Rescue will transport to a shelter. Remember that if you evacuate to a shelter take your bedding and necessary medications.”

     FBFR will begin transporting evacuees at noon Sunday, and will end operations at dark “due to safety issues,” Elliott said.

     Although the Lumber River may appear low today, Elliott said that “does not reflect the amount of water in it that is coming to Fair Bluff. It is going to rise extremely quick like with Hurricane Matthew.”

Power outages

     Virtually all Duke Power customers in Columbus County remained without electricity Friday evening, while Brunswick Electric Membership Corp was making progress during the day, with less than half of its customers in Columbus, about 46 percent, still without power at 5:30 p.m.

More rain

     Much more rain is expected from Florence, with additional rainfall for almost all of Columbus County expected from 10 to 15 inches, less in Horry County ranging from 8 to 10 inches in the northern third including Loris and Green Sea, from 6 to 8 inches in most of the rest of the county, an NWS chart said.


     Horry County Schools will be closed Monday, with a decision on when to re-open dependent on direction from the governor, school district spokeswoman Lisa Bourcier said.

     Columbus County Schools will be closed at least through Wednesday, with a decision on reopening pending.

     Courts in Columbus County will be closed at least through Wednesday, Clerk of Court Jess Hill said.

     Updates will be posted here as events warrant and as is possible, with complete coverage in the next Tabor-Loris Tribune in print and online.

Saturday 2:30 p.m.

     Firefighters plucked two children from a car left stranded in rising flood waters east of Tabor City Saturday afternoon, just one in a rising number of incidents related to Hurricane Florence.

     Porche James said she thought her small car would make it through the rising waters in the 3000 block of Miller Road, but the car stalled leaving her and her young children Teondra James and Junior Sanders stranded.

     Firefighters from the Tabor City Fire Department, nearby checking for fallen trees caused by the storm, arrived quickly, and carried the children from the car through a steady rain.

     A request for road closed signs was made by firefighters, an early ask in will likely be dozens in the coming days, based on National Weather Service forecasts.

     At 2 p.m. Saturday Florence continued her slow slog through the Carolinas stretching well into Georgia, her northern bands nearly to Virginia, rainfall expected into the Tabor-Loris Community at least through the weekend.


     Seven rivers in the Cape Fear Region are forecast to reach major flood levels as a result of Florence, the NWS said in a noon briefing, including the Lumber River at Lumberton and the Waccamaw River at Conway, both possibly to reach record levels next week.

     Major flooding at Lumberton could begin today, the NWS said, late Sunday or early Monday in Conway.

     Although the NWS did not specifically reference Fair Bluff and Nichols in its forecast, major flooding is expected downstream, Fair Bluff Fire/Rescue Assistant Chief Ken Elliott said.

     “We’re as ready as we can be,” Elliott said.

     A new Fair Bluff Fire/Rescue station is slated to open later this year, with the station still operating out of the National Guard Armory as a result of flooding from Hurricane Matthew 23 months ago. Its flood waters claimed the FBFR station, most of the downtown business district, and hundreds of homes, most still uninhabited.

     Can the town survive another record flood?

     “I don’t want to sound cold, but most of the damage has already been done by Matthew,” town consultant Al Leonard said. “Most of the downtown is still closed, most of the homes that were flooded are still empty.”

     Crews were out Saturday checking neighborhoods flooded during Matthew, Elliott said. Most evacuated in the face of Florence as she approached. Those still in place, will be shown flooding projections and encouraged strongly to leave.

     US Coast Guard rescue teams and others are prepared to respond to Columbus County for swift water rescues, county spokeswoman Michelle Tatum said.

     The county also has locally based swiftwater rescue teams ready, those teams created and equipped in the past two years, a response to lessons learned during Matthew.

School’s out

     Columbus County Schools will be closed at least through Wednesday, spokesman Kelly Jones said Saturday, with a decision on when classes will resume to be made “as soon as possible.”

     Updates will be posted here as events warrant and as is possible, with complete coverage in the next Tabor-Loris Tribune in print and online.

Flood prep: Sandbags at the CVS in Loris. (Deuce Niven, TLT)

Saturday 9:45 a.m.

     This post is later than planned because we have not had Internet access.

     That’s a reflection of reality throughout the Tabor-Loris Community, apparently more so in Columbus County than in Horry, where the damage to infrastructure has apparently been more severe and widespread as Hurricane Florence has made her slow, grinding slog through the region.

     A tornado watch is in effect through 5 p.m. for the region, including the Tabor-Loris Community, the National Weather Service has reported.

     Power crews were out in force in both Columbus and Horry counties, restoration expected for some Saturday, for others likely a day or days later.

Dam at Lake Tabor is filling. (Deuce Niven, TLT)

     Roadways have not been impacted in the area, but rising flood waters may change that in the days ahead, both Department of Transpiration and NWS officials said.

     Flooding has forced the closing of I-95 near Dunn, north of Fayetteville, NCDOT reported.

Latest NWS forecast map.

     Public water systems remained running in the area Saturday morning.

     Most fire and rescue responses were curtailed during the height of the storm Friday night into Saturday morning, but were operating after daybreak, many with delayed response times dues to trees across roadways.

     Updates will be posted here as events warrant and as is possible, with complete coverage in the next Tabor-Loris Tribune in print and online.

High winds create ocean waves at Lake Tabor after noon Friday. (Deuce Niven, TLT)

Friday 7 p.m.

     Winds were waning into the evening Friday as Tropical Storm Florence continued to bring torrential rain, the National Weather Service reported.

     Peak sustained winds in the Tabor-Loris Community were expected at about 51 miles per hour, peak wind gusts about ten miles per hour faster.

     Updates will be posted here as events warrant and as is possible, with complete coverage in the next Tabor-Loris Tribune in print and online.

Friday 5:30 p.m.

     New wind and rain maps from the National Weather Service show a marginally weakened Florence still poised to dump tons of rain and bring with it “Life-threatening, catastrophic flooding and river flooding” in the coming days.


     Downgraded Friday afternoon from hurricane to tropical storm status, Florence was still bringing sustained winds of up to 70 miles per hour, gusts from 80 to 100 miles per hour in most of Columbus and Horry counties, including all of the Tabor-Loris Community.

     Some areas have already received 10 inches of rain, with the forecast map indicating that the TLC could receive 15 to 20 inches more before the massive, slow-moving storm finally moves completely away early next week.

     With most of Columbus and much of Horry without electrical service Friday, restoration work won’t begin until winds subside enough to make that work safe.

Help is ready

     “DOT is on standby ready to deploy when they can respond to any issues,” Columbus County Emergency Operations spokeswoman Michelle Tatum said Friday. “We have outside resources ready to deploy when the wind speeds drop back to safe speeds. “We also have a Coast Guard crew on standby ready to assist as soon as the storm passes.”

     Multiple rescue missioners were undertaken Friday with responders from outside the county, including fire crews from High Point, assisting local first responders.

     A crash on NC 130 near Soles Road Friday reportedly involved a tree or tree limb falling on a moving car, resulting in serious injuries to at least one person.

     Fire crews were dispatched to multiple calls involving trees and tree limbs blocking highways.

     There have been no deaths associated with the hurricane, now tropical storm, reported in Columbus or Horry counties.


     A 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew remains in effect for Horry County, in Chadbourn a curfew was ordered from 7 p.m. to 6:30 a.m.

     Updates will be posted here as events warrant and as is possible, with complete coverage in the next Tabor-Loris Tribune in print and online.

Friday 1:45 p.m.

     Winds were picking up in the Tabor-Loris Community in the early afternoon Friday, but the big worry continues to be flooding, the latest briefing from National Weather Service Hydrologist Rick Neuherz indicated.

     His latest briefing indicates more rivers likely to flood as Hurricane Florence creeps through the region, headed into Horry County, heavy and incessant rainfall likely well into the weekend or into next week.

     Rainfall projects are critical, Neuherz said, and not certain, noting that “how much there is, with respect to the basins, could significantly alter river stage projections.

     Neuherz, earlier Friday, said flooding resulting from Florence could be of “Biblical proportions” exceeding that of Hurricane Florence 23 years ago that caused community altering damage in Fair Bluff and Nichols.

     Highway impacts could include US 74 at Boardman and I-95 near Lumberton, both major transportation routes.


     Shelters were busy throughout Columbus County, Edgewood Elementary in Whiteville, the only pet-friendly shelter in the county, essentially at capacity just shy of 140. South Columbus High was reporting 220 evacuees, West Columbus 291, East Columbus 77, and Guideway Elementary 70.


     Power outages were widespread, Brunswick Electric reporting, nearly 11,000 of the county’s 12,000 members without service at 1:30 p.m.; Almost all of Duke Energy’s 16,544 customers without service.

     Restoration is expected to take days, if not weeks, and won’t begin until wind levels drop enough to make the work safe for utility crews.

     A massive response from utility crews from a broad swath of America is standing by to respond, utility leaders said, once it is safe to do so.

     Columbus County’s emergency radio system, used by fire, EMS and law enforcement, was also out of action earlier Friday, but is operational.

Friday 11 a.m.

     Her forward speed cut in half since landfall, recorded at just 3 miles per hour and moving west south west in an 11 a.m. Friday National Weather Service advisory, Hurricane Florence continued to crawl from Cape Fear towards Horry County, promising to bring “catastrophic” rainfall.

     Flooding could exceed that of Hurricane Matthew 23 months ago. NWS meteorologist Rick Neuherz said flooding could be of “Biblical proportions, for lack of a better term.”

     By 11 a.m. Brunswick Electric was reporting power outages in Columbus County impacting nearly 6,400 customers, while more than 16,000 Duke Energy customers were in the dark in the county.

Friday 8 a.m.

     U.S. 74 at Boardman and the border of Columbus and Robeson counties will likely be impacted by near record flooding forcast on the Lumber River at Lumberton, a North Carolina Department of Transportation news release said Friday morning.

     I-95 south of Fayetteville will also be impacted by that level of flooding, the DOT said.

     Both highways were closed by flooding that followed Hurricane Matthew nearly two years ago. The National Weather Service is forecasting flooding “similar to Hurricane Matthew.”

     Roads are open, but travel is “not advisable” in a broad region under the gun by Florence, including all of Columbus County, the DOT said.

     Downed trees are have been reported in several areas, the DOT said. That is expected to increase.


     Power outages were mounting in Columbus County, nearly 7,00 reported by Duke Energy, more than 3,000 by Brunswick Electric, at 8 a.m.

     For many, likely most, restoration will be days away, with Florence expected to linger through the region.

     Updates will be posted here as events warrant and as is possible, with complete coverage in the next Tabor-Loris Tribune in print and online.

Friday 5:30 a.m.

     Major flood levels are forecast as a result of Hurricane Florence, the National Weather Service is reporting.

     Specific forecasts, likely not complete, call for major flooding on the Lumber River at Lumberton and the Waccamaw River at Conway.

     Not addressed was the Lumber River at Fair Bluff and Nichols, community that were among the hardest hit by flooding that followed Hurricane Matthew in October 2016.

     Florence continued to crawl through the region at about 6 miles per hour just after 5 p.m.

     Flood waters are expected to rise rapidly during the day in some locations, the Lumber River at Lumberton expected to reach major flood stage late tonight, topping 24 feet by Sunday. Flood stage at that location is 13 feet, the NWS reports, calling the projected flooding there “similar to Hurricane Matthew.”

     Farther downstream, impacts in Fair Bluff and Nichols might be later than in Lumberton.

     Flooding along the Waccamaw River at Conway is likely to come later, the NWS said, the river currently at about 8 feet, reaching major flood stage late Saturday or Sunday, topping record flooding of 18 feet Tuesday.

     Impacts in Red Bluff and Pireway, upstream from Conway, could be earlier than in Conway.

     Updates will be posted here as events warrant and as is possible, with complete coverage in the next Tabor-Loris Tribune in print and online.

Thursday 11 p.m.

     Impacts of Hurricane Florence remained light in the Tabor-Loris Community (TLC) at 11 p.m. Thursday, with the overall storm losing some intensity as its wind field grew larger, National Weather Service meteorologist said.

     Landfall at on the coast was expected after daybreak Friday, with tropical storm or hurricane force winds.

     Wind and rain will increase overnight, the NWS said, with tropical storm force winds likely in the TLC about 2 a.m.

     Tropical storm force winds were likely to continue well into Saturday, torrential rainfall into Sunday, the storm’s immediate impact not departing until Sunday.

     Flooding may linger much longer, and arrive later as rivers rise. Impacts on the Lumber and Waccamaw Rivers may be extensive. Both were heavily impact by Hurricane Mathew in October 2016, Fair Bluff’s downtown devastated, and more than 300 homes still vacant as a result of that storm 23 months ago.

     Fair Bluff Fire/Rescue Assistant Chief Ken Elliott said crews were staging in their temporary headquarters at the National Guard Armory in the river town, and have a mobile command post ready to respond, flooding or other issues prompt evacuation of the armory.

     Elliott said monitoring of river levels is ongoing, and that he was awaiting forecast information on expected rises in river levels.

     Power outages are likely, the NWS said, with recovery expected to take days, at least.

     FBFR crews took one patient to an American Red Cross shelter at Guideway Elementary earlier Thursday, Elliott said, because that shelter had generators big enough to provide power for the entire school and power oxygen machines for patients who need them.

     Five shelters are open in Columbus County and housed 823 people late Thursday, County Manager Mike Stephens said. The shelter at Edgewood Elementary, Stephens said, is at capacity and those seeking shelter should choose another option.

     Edgewood, Stephens said, houses 14 dogs and four cats.

     Updates will be posted here as events warrant and as is possible, with complete coverage in the next Tabor-Loris Tribune in print and online.

Thursday 5 p.m.

     Major flooding along the Waccamaw and Lumber rivers is possible, still dependent on the track Hurricane Florence takes as she likely stalls offshore near Wilmington and eventually tracks to the west, the National Weather Service reported just before 5 p.m.

     Major flooding is looking more likely further west than projected earlier, the NWS said.

     A broad swath of area expecting up to 30 inches of rain extends from near Myrtle Beach to the northwest, through the Tabor-Loris Community, continuing to the west of Bennettsville and Lumberton.

Shelters, special needs

     Shelters throughout Columbus and Horry counties were reporting brisk business, one in Myrtle Beach and Whiteville at capacity, others filling, officials said.

     South Columbus High has the second highest number of occupants in the county, with space available.

     Those who make their way to shelters need to bring air mattress, sleeping bag, and other provisions including personal hygiene items and clothing., a Columbus County news release said.

     Those with special medical needs must have someone to assist them with those needs while in the shelter, and must bring their own necessary medical supplies.

     Those who can should bring non-perishable foods and water for the additional needs for their family members.

     No one should call 911 except in the case of an emergency. Those with questions on shelters or other public concerns in Columbus County should call 910-642-8193 or 910-642-7684.


     Columbus Regional and McLeod Loris remain open and fully operational, with limited visitation allowed. Entrance to both hospitals is through the Emergency Department.

     Shelter-in-place procedures are or will be in place at both hospitals, and were effective at 4 p.m. Thursday at Columbus Regional, spokeswoman Terrie Priest said.

     In preparation for shelter-in-place the hospital had discharged patients as appropriate, increased staff, and secured extra supplies for staff and patients, Priest said.

     Those who plan to seek shelter need to do so now, the news release said, not after heavy rain and strong winds begin.

A Brunswick Electric lineman used a pole to remove a branch from a power line that disrupted service to some customers east of Tabor City Thursday afternoon, an early impact from light winds spinning off of Hurricane Florence. (Deuce Niven, TLT)

FEMA tips

     Storm preparation tips from the Federal Emergency Management Agency include:

  • Communicate with friends and family. Tell them where you are riding out the storm, and how you will let them know you’re safe. You can call, text, email, or use social media.
  • Stay informed. Turn on your TV/radio, or check your city/county website for weather updates and emergency instructions.
  • Keep away from windows. Close storm shutters; flying glass from broken windows could injure you.
  • Prepare for power outages. Turn your refrigerator or freezer to the coldest setting, and open only when necessary. If you lose power, food will last longer. Keep a thermometer in the refrigerator to check food temperature when the power is restored.

     Updates will be posted here as events warrant and as is possible, with complete coverage in the next Tabor-Loris Tribune in print and online.

A message for Florence in downtown Tabor City. (Deuce Niven, TLT)

Thursday 1 p.m.

     Wind impacts from Hurricane Florence were beginning to be felt in coastal areas at mid-day Thursday, with impacts lighter inland into the Tabor-Loris Community.

     That will change during the afternoon, the National Weather Service reported, with tropical storm force winds expected after dusk Thursday, hurricane force winds during the day Friday, well into Friday night, tropical storm force winds well into Saturday.


     A 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew has been ordered for all unincorporated areas of Horry County until further notice.

     Horry County Council issued the order on Thursday, a county news release said.

Emergency prep

     Municipal and rural fire departments throughout the Tabor-Loris Community reported preparations for the storm are complete, the wait for the impact of Florence underway.

     A small fire department crew was in place overnight Wednesday at the Tabor City Fire Department, Chief Jerry Hodges said, more coming in on Thursday.

     “We’ll respond to calls until the wind reaches 45 miles per hour,” Hodges said. “After that, we might respond to a wreck on U.S. 701 at NC 904 if we could do so safely, but not much more than that.”

     Keeping U.S. 701 free from fallen trees or other hazards will be the top priority once it is safe for firefighters are able to get out as the storm wanes, Hodges said.

     “That’s a main highway, the way to the hospital if you can get there, we’ll do the best we can,” Hodges said.

     More than 15 volunteers are expected to staff the Loris Fire Department overnight Thursday and into the weekend, Lt. Robert Rudelitch said.

     “LFD has several 4-wheel drive vehicles to assist in rescues and clearing roads for emergencies,” Rudelitch said.


     Restoring service after the hurricane is going to be a long process, virtually every officials said, and various government agencies on Thursday were already announcing closes for Monday.

     Courts will be closed Monday, Clerk of Court Jess Hill announced, with a decision on the rest of next week pending.

     Meetings scheduled for Monday for the Horry County Board of Education and the Southeastern Community College Board of Trustees have been cancelled, to be rescheduled later.

Water usage

     Grand Strand Water & Sewer Authority leaders are asking for limited water usage for what could be many days, “until we have fully recovered from Hurricane Florence,” a news release said. “Please restrict your water use to essential needs limiting lawn irrigation, pressure washing, or any other outdoor use of water that is not necessary.”

     In Columbus County, leaders said every effort will be made to maintain the county water system, municipal leaders making the same promise.


     American Red Cross Shelters remain open in Columbus and Horry counties, with two exceptions due to capacity being reached.

     Edgewood Elementary School in Whiteville and Palmetto Bays Elementary School in Myrtle Beach have both reached capacity, and are no longer accepting people. Look for information on other shelters lower on this page.

     Updates will be posted here as events warrant and as is possible, with complete coverage in the next Tabor-Loris Tribune in print and online.

Thursday 10:30 a.m.

     Hurricane Florence could dump 30 inches of rain on the Tabor-Loris Community and a broad swath of the eastern Carolinas stretching from the Grand Strand to Goldsboro through Lumberton to Morehead City in the next few days, National Weather Service Meteorologist Steve Pfaff said in a briefing Thursday morning.

     Wind will also be a big factor, even as the storm has slowed in intensity, because her forward motion is also expected to stall and wobble, bringing hurricane force and tropical storm force winds to the area, also through Saturday.

     Wind and rain impacts will be felt locally beginning Thursday afternoon, Pfaff said.

     Because the storm is not expected to move through quickly, Pfaff said root systems will give was as the ground becomes saturated, power and communications outages expected to be widespread and long-lasting.

     “It will be very difficult to get into recovery mode,” Pfaff said. “This is going to be a logistics nightmare, a recovery nightmare.”

     Low lying and adjacent areas, some that have never flooded, may if Florence lingers as current forecasts suggest, Pfaff said.

     “Areas that never received flooding from Floyd or Matthew, it could happen,” Pfaff said, reference previous storms that have caused wide-spread flooding.

     Fair Bluff and Nichols are still recovering from Hurricane Matthew, the October 2016 storm that ruined hundreds of structures in those communities, many still uninhabitable.


     Shelters were reportedly doing brisk traffic throughout the region, with the shelter at Edgewood Elementary School in Columbus County at capacity. It is the only pet-friendly area shelter.

     At South Columbus High more than 100 have reported sought refuge, that number expected to climb, with volunteers prepared to open additional wings at the school.

     Updates will be posted here as events warrant and as is possible, with complete coverage in the next Tabor-Loris Tribune in print and online.

Thursday 7:30 a.m.

     Hurricane Florence remained a tremendous threat at daybreak Thursday.

     As the storm weakened, and took a kind turn for those in the Tabor-Loris Community the monster grew wider with a slow slog and forecasts to linger over the region well into the weekend, her direct impacts expected to last into the weekend.

     Streets were relatively quiet, though the parking lot at Tabor City’s IGA were filled at 7 a.m., customers waiting for a bread truck that was, at that point, a half-hour late in arriving.

     Convenience stores were open, business slow with some regulars drinking coffee, the discussion focused largely on Florence.

     National Weather Service forecasts at 7:30 a.m. showed the fringes of the store brushing the Carolinas coastline, real impacts expected later today. Florence, moving to the northwest at 15 miles per hour at daybreak, looked likely to come ashore about 2 a.m. Friday, moving to the west before taking a southerly turn and weakening somewhat to tropical storm status as the center moves into South Carolina, possibly wright through the Tabor-Loris Community by 2 a.m. Saturday.

     Weakening as it moves slowly through South Carolina, Florence may be a tropical depression by the time it reached the Columbia area, still dumping torrential rain in a broad swath likely covering the entire state of South Carolina and well into north Carolina and Georgia.

     NWS forecasters said though weakening, Florence remains an immense threat, and those left in her path need to be prepared.

     “This is a life-threatening, multi-hazard situation which includes extremely hazardous maritime conditions, life threatening storm surge and flooding, combined with wind impacts,” a NWS briefing said.

     Updates will be posted here as events warrant and as is possible, with complete coverage in the next Tabor-Loris Tribune in print and online.

Wednesday 2:30 p.m.

     A dusk to dawn curfew has been ordered for downtown Whiteville effective midnight tonight, Mayor Terry Mann has ordered.

     Fair Bluff has also ordered a dusk-to-dawn curfew, town wide, The News Reporter is reporting.

     His order is “Amendment No. 1” in a State of Emergency proclamation ordered by the mayor on Tuesday as Hurricane Florence continued its march towards the region.

     Downtown is defined “as the intersection Lee and Webster Streets crossing Madison Street over to Franklin Street and all streets moving in a southerly direction to the intersection of Lee, Madison, and Franklin Streets, encompassing Lee and Franklin Streets, east to west,” the order said.

     The order will remain in effect until further notice.

     Meanwhile, wind speeds in the hurricane slowed some Wednesday afternoon, the status of Hurricane Florence re-classified as a Category 3 storm, from a Category 4, with hurricance force winds, 75 to 94 miles per hour, extending as far as 175 miles from the center of the storm.

     Forecasters said uncertainty surrounding the storm’s eventual path was growing Wednesday afternoon.

     Updates will be posted here as events warrant, with complete coverage in the next Tabor-Loris Tribune in print and online.

Wednesday noon

     Hurricane Florence took a decidedly ugly turn during the overnight hours early Wednesday, with forecasts into the weekend showing an increasing likelihood of a direct impact on what is now a Category 4 storm beginning Thursday night, substantial rainfall amounts, 20 inches or more, impact much of the region.

     With evacuation orders in place along the Carolinas coast, inland communities were seeing significant impacts, with some stores boarded up, public works officials clearing canals and other drainage routes, and some closings.

     Precise impacts from Florence remained unclear at noon Wednesday, with some forecasters indicating she could weaken just before making landfall sometime Thursday, with the possibility of a lingering and powerful soaker, taking a southwesterly turn before lumbering through north and central South Carolina, but the wide swath of the massive storm dumping tons of rainfall through much of North Carolina, all of South Carolina and most of Georgia by Monday morning. is free

     In Longs, the U.S. Post Office closed at 10 a.m. Wednesday, a sign on the locked door advising that the office would re-open after the hurricane passes.

     Today’s newspapers were not delivered to the Post Office in Longs before its closing, and likely will not be entered there until next week.

     For those readers, and everyone else, we have removed the paywall from, making the entire site available to everyone with Internet access. Those with phones and tablets will find a user-friendly mobile platform.


     Shelters opened in Horry County on Tuesday, in Columbus County Wednesday morning. Shelter locations include:


  • South Columbus High School – 40 Stallion Drive, Tabor City
  • West Columbus High School – 7294 Andrew Jackson Highway Southwest, Cerro Gordo
  • East Columbus High School – 32 Gator Lane, Lake Waccamaw
  • Guideway Elementary School – 11570 Swamp Fox Highway East, Tabor City
  • Edgewood Elementary School – 317 East Calhoun Street, Whiteville

     Edgewood Elementary School is the county’s designated pet friendly shelter. Only domesticated animals will be allowed. Pet owners should bring the pet in a crate, have a current rabies vaccination tag attached to the pet’s collar, and have food and a leash for the animal. Trained personnel will care for the animal at the shelter.


  • Loris High School – 301 Loris Lions Road, Loris
  • North Myrtle Beach High School – 3750 Sea Mountain Highway, Little River
  • Aynor Middle – 400 Frye Road, Galivant’s Ferry
  • Conway High School – 2301 Church Street, Conway
  • Whittemore Park Middle – 1808 Rhue Street, Conway
  • Palmetto Bays Elementary – 8900 Highway 544, Myrtle Beach


     Those planning to evacuate to a shelter need to plan to be self-sufficient.

     Items each family should bring with them include:

  • Prescription medications
  • Blankets
  • Pillows
  • Extra clothing
  • Diapers
  • Infant formula
  • Water
  • Non-perishable food items

     Columbus County Sheriff Lewis Hatcher, in a news release at noon Wednesday, urged citizens who need to seek shelter at a shelter not to wait.

     “I urge everyone to finish your preparations now and either shelter in place or evacuate today, if that is your plan of action,” Hatcher said. “Secure your belongings outside. Complete a home inventory. I urge you to limit your travel unless you are evacuating. Be safe.”


     Landfill operations for the Horry County Solid Waste Authority will shut down at the end of business Wednesday and resume Tuesday, Sept. 18, if possible, a SWA news release said.

     Recycling centers were closed effective Wednesday, with plans to reopen Monday, Sept. 17, if possible.

     Administrative offices were to close Thursday, and reopen Monday, if possible.

     SWA information may be obtained here or at 843-347-1651.

     Updates will be posted here as events warrant, with complete coverage in the next Tabor-Loris Tribune in print and online.