Horry schools closing extended, SCC opening set, shelters, supplies, & a governor visits

A drone view of a flooded Fair Bluff (NCDOT)

By DEUCE NIVEN

tribdeuce@tabor-loris.com

& By JENN BOYD

tribjenn@tabor-loris.com

Saturday evening

Horry schools closing extended

     “Unprecedented flooding” in Horry County in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence has forced the county school district to remain closed for at least another week, Supt. Rick Maxey, Ph.D. announced Saturday.

     “Available data concerning river levels, flooded areas, flooding time tables, and road closures,” forced the decision to close schools Sept. 24 through 28, Maxey said in a news release.

     “We are committed to providing a quality education, the stability of a routine, as well as nutritious meals that many of our families depend upon,” Maxey said. “However, we also need to be absolutely sure that our campuses are safe and that Horry County’s infrastructure and roads are ready for the safe transportation of our students to school.”

     Employees may be asked to report on campus next Friday, Maxey said, if conditions allow. An announcement will be made later next week.

     An update on additional plans for re-opening schools will be made Wednesday afternoon, Maxey said.

SCC opens Wednesday

     Southeastern Community College will re-open to students next Wednesday, spokeswoman Liz McLean said Saturday.

     Faculty and staff should return to campus Monday, with no classes scheduled for Monday or Tuesday.

Game plan

     “We do have a game plan,” Horry County Emergency Management Director Randy Webster said in Facebook post Saturday.

     Webster said areas of Horry are flooding that have not before, and flooding is more severe in areas that have historically seen very high water.

     Calling the current flooding “unprecedented,” Webster said. “We do have a worst-case scenario, and that’s what we’ve been trying to plan for. We know a lot of folks are going to be impacted that have never been impacted before.”

     Highway closings are major issues, Webster said, with SC 9 at Longs closed impacted by major flooding, US 501 Business in Conway in danger of closing Saturday night.

     While the Waccamaw River continues to rise near Conway, it has crested in Longs, a Saturday afternoon National Weather Service summary said, and should continue to fall through Thursday.

Shelters

     Ten shelters are now open in Horry County as rising flood waters in some areas force more people from their homes, while some flood waters, along the Pee Dee and Little Pee Dee rivers, are beginning to recede.

     Shelters are open at Loris Elementary School, Aynor Middle School, Conway High School, North Myrtle Beach High School, Palmetto Bay Elementary School, Ocean Drive Elementary School, Whittemore Park Middle School, City of Conway Park and Recreation, Horry-Georgetown Tech Grand Strand Campus, and a special needs shelter opened on the Conway campus of HGTC. Those needing space in the special needs shelter should contact the triage line at 800-578-2031.

     Three shelters remain open in Columbus County, with American Red Cross site at East Columbus High closed Saturday.

     Shelter numbers are dwindling, South Columbus down to 35, Edgewood Elementary in Whiteville with 40, and 56 remaining at West Columbus High School.

Disaster supplies

     Distribution sites remain in Columbus County, offering MRE’s, water and tarps for those in need.

     Distribution takes place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

     Assisting with distribution are NC Forest Service employees and NC National Guard members.

     Not all sites will be open tomorrow (Sunday). Those that will be open include Tabor City Fire Department, Fair Bluff at the old auto parts store, North Whiteville Fire Department, Hallsboro Fire Department, Evergreen Fire Department, Bolton Fire Department and Lake Waccamaw at the BB&T in Hills Plaza.

     Supplies have been provided to every fire department in the county, with the exception of Whiteville Fire Department. There the Columbus Baptist Association has a distribution site set up at Barefoot Church in the old Big Lots building. Donated non-perishable foods and water are available there.

Governor in Whiteville

     Gov. Roy Cooper was in Whiteville Saturday, speaking with emergency management leaders and surveying flood damage from Hurricane Florence, some by helicopter on his way in from Brunswick County, The News Reporter reported.

     Cooper met with county commissioner’s chair Amon McKenzie, state Rep. Brenden Jones, and others at the Emergency Operations Center.

     He also took part in a walking tour of downtown Whiteville, visiting with Mayor Terry Mann and other business owners working to clean up and renovate stores damaged by the floodwaters.

Updates

     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 7 p.m.

Watch those wells

     Wells submerged by flood waters pose a health risk, Columbus County Health Director Kim Smith warns.

     “If your water well was submerged by flood waters as a result of Hurricane Florence, you must disinfect your well prior to use.  Flood waters carry many harmful bacteria,” a county news release said. “You can boil your well water to fulfill your short term needs. However, you should do this only as a last resort.

     “Utilizing bottled water is a better option until your well has been serviced.  Disinfection is a complicated process.  You should hire a well water professional to properly disinfect your well.

     “After the disinfection is completed, it is recommended to have your well water tested to ensure that it is safe for consumption.

     “If you have questions concerning the process, contact a qualified well professional or the Columbus County Health Department.”

Water system contingency plan

     While water system issues are not expected as a result of the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, including flooding and the potential release of coal ash from Santee Cooper’s Grainger site in Conway, Grand Strand Water & Sewer Authority and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control have contingency plans in place.

     “If we suspect an issue and source water conditions are negatively impacted, the Myrtle Beach Water Treatment Plant will be temporarily shut down and water service will be provided to the Myrtle Beach system from the GSWSA Bull Creek Water system through several connections.”

     If that happens, other GSWSA customers will need to “reduce consumption by half to sustain all the systems,” an Horry County news release said.

     Residents could be asked to limit water use to “essential needs only and to stop all outdoor use.”

     A separate notification will be made if the Myrtle Beach WTP is shut down, with an all GSWSA customers asked to reduce consumption.

     Water systems that would be impacted include the cities of Loris, North  Myrtle Beach, Myrtle Beach, Little River Water & Sewer Co., and GSWSA.

     Customers with questions or concerns may contact GSWSA at 843-443-8200.

Horry Landfill hours

     Traffic issues around the Horry County landfill caused by flooding that’s impacting highways will be radically changed effective Monday, Sept. 24.

     Hours, effective Monday and until further notice, will be from 3 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

     The landfill will be open from 6 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 22.

     In addition, Horry County’s Household Hazardous Waste Facility is closed until further notice.

Burning ban in Horry

     An outdoor burning ban throughout unincorporated areas of Horry County has been ordered by county government.

     Flooding impacting road and traffic conditions in broad sections of the county has prompted the order, which will remain until formally cancelled.

     “Any and all outdoor burning, included permitted burns, are strictly prohibited during the ban, and those involved in any open burning would be in violation of the law,” a county news release said.

Mosquito spraying

     Ground spraying, from trucks, for mosquitos will begin in Horry County beginning at 4 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 25.

     Spraying will take place from 4 to 7 a.m. daily, except Saturdays and Sundays, weather permitting, a county news release said.

     EPA approved, the chemicals used for mosquito control pose “minimum risk to humans or animals.

     “Individuals with asthma or other respiratory illness may wish to stay indoors and close windows and doors during spraying.  In addition, homegrown fruits and vegetables should be washed, scrubbed, and/or peeled before eating.”

     Beekeepers should contact Horry County Stormwater to identify the location of their colonies at 843-381-8000. Citizens who wish to request spraying in their area may call the same number.

Concert cancelled

     An “End of Summer” concert planned for Saturday by the Loris Chamber of Commerce and the City of Loris has been cancelled, another casualty of Hurricane Florence, the Chamber announced Friday.

Back2Biz

     A database of open businesses following the devastation of Hurricane Florence is being compiled by the Columbus Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, director Jennifer Holcomb says.

     A “full-fledged campaign” to support businesses in the county will be launched soon, Holcomb said. She asked that any operating local business in the county, chamber members or not, email back2biz@thecolumbuschamber.com to be included in that effort.

     Those who respond should include the business name, physical address, phone number, hours of operation, and note if there are limits to items, services, or other special notations.

Updates

     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 p.m.

     Columbus County Schools will reopen Wednesday, Sept. 26, on a two-your delay, spokesman Kelly Jones said Friday.

     “Eleven and twelve month staff will return Monday,” Jones said in a news release. “Ten month staff has an optional workday on Tuesday.

     “We will work with all displaced students and staff, and we will also monitor conditions and notify of any changes.”

     Schools have been closed since last Wednesday, with several pressed into service at American Red Cross shelters in advance of the arrival of Hurricane Florence

     Communities continue to struggle in her aftermath, with rising flood waters on the Waccamaw River, a slow fall on the Lumber with a secondary crest expected early next week in Fair Bluff.

     Horry County Schools have been closed since last Tuesday. A decision on if or when classes will resume next week will be announced Sunday, the district said previously.

A muddy mess on Red Bluff Road near Daisy. (Jenn Boyd/TLT)

Waccamaw rises

     Water continues to rise on the Waccamaw River, expected to crest in Conway Tuesday or Wednesday some four feet higher than levels seen from hurricanes Matthew and Floyd, the 1 p.m. Friday summary from the National Weather Service said.

     Water is expected to rise slowly in Fair Bluff, after receding since earlier this week, with a secondary crest less than the previous peak this week, based on NWS forecasts for Lumberton, which is upstream.

     Both Fair Bluff and Nichols have seen flooding on par with that of Hurricane Matthew, possibly worse, officials in those communities have said.

     Flood waters continue to take a toll on roadways and traffic throughout the region.

Transfer station

     Columbus County’s Transfer Station, where all storm debris must be taken, will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

CC government

     Columbus County government offices will reopen on Tuesday.

Courts

     Courts in Columbus County are partially cancelled for next week, though the courthouse will re-open Monday, Clerk of Court Jess Hill said Friday.

     Jurors summoned for the Sept. 24 session of court do not have to report, with that session of court cancelled.

     District Court for Monday has been cancelled, with sessions to resume Tuesday.

     Attorney’s and those scheduled for court have or will be notified of the changes, many in letters sent to the last known address of the person involved.

Updates

     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 4:30 p.m.

     McLeod Health is waiving the fees for its McLeod TeleHealth service now through September 27 to help those affected by Hurricane Florence and the continued impacts from the devastating flooding taking place throughout the Carolinas, the Florence based healthcare provider said in a news release.

     McLeod TeleHealth is a service that enables patients to connect through live video with a doctor anytime from anywhere in the Carolinas using a computer, smartphone or tablet. Visits are private and secure and no appointment is necessary.

     To access the service sign up online at McLeodTelehealth.org, download the McLeod TeleHealth app, available in the Apple App Store and Google Play, and enter coupon code, “FLORENCE.”

     Patients can access a board-certified physician for minor illnesses or recurring conditions like cough, cold, ear infections, bronchitis, rashes, or the flu. Doctors are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and no appointment is necessary.

     Insurance is not required. Signup is free.

     “We understand the effects this storm is having on our entire region and we want to help ensure that maintaining access to quality, affordable healthcare is not something our region has to worry about,” said McLeod Health vice president of communications and public information Jumana Swindler. “This is a moment for us to demonstrate how deeply we live our core values.”

Updates

     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.

US 701 at Allsbrook repaired. (Jenn Boyd/TLT)

Thursday 4 p.m.

     Shelters are open or opening, food and supply distribution points in place, and more highways are closing as river and other bodies of water rise under the impact of Hurricane Florence, days after the stubborn storm departed.

     Hwy 22 from SC 905 to SC 90 will close at 6 p.m. today, and encouraged motorists that need to get to the Grand Strand to use US 501 from Conway.

     With repairs to US 701 at Allsbrook made Wednesday, Tabor-Loris Community residents can reach Conway directly on that highway.

     Green Sea, meanwhile, remains largely cut off with major access roads including SC 9 and SC 917 closed due to flooding.

     SC 9 is also closed in the Longs area, from SC 905 to SC 90, with water from the Waccamaw River covering that highway.

     Flooding on the Waccamaw will get worse in the coming days, a National Weather Service projection showing a record flood level between 21 and 22 feet Tuesday or Wednesday, 3 to 4 feet higher than seen following hurricanes Matthew and Floyd.

Homes vacated

     One of four Nichols homeowners who refused to leave ahead of Hurricane Florence, Arista Snipes was forced to leave about 9 p.m. Wednesday.

     “We were forced to leave our home and beloved dog,” Snipes said. “I was fortunate I knew the man who was taking my dog who works for the local animal control. We couldn’t take him because they told us a shelter wouldn’t take us in with an animal.

     “We were fortunate to stay with family last night but are uncertain of tonight and where we will be staying. I just pray our home will be ok.”

     Snipes isn’t alone with home worries.

     Billy McClure of Meadow Street in Loris has been busy gutting his home where he and his family have resided for 17 years.

     A tornado alert on his wife’s cell phone Sunday sent them scrambling to an interior bathroom for safety.

     Within minutes, several feet of water began to gush through their home.

     They were rescued by the National Guard, only to find their home in shambles upon returning.

     “We are devastated,” McClure said. “We are looking at several months of heavy cleaning. We went to Tennessee to weather out the storm and was told it was safe to come back home.

     “Boy that was wrong.”

Shelters

     Families forced from their homes by flood waters have shelter options provided by the American Red Cross in Columbus and Horry counties.

     Closed by water issues during the worst of Florence’s visit, the shelter at East Columbus High School has re-opened for residents of eastern areas of the county.

     Shelters remain open at South and East Columbus high schools, and at Edgewood Elementary School in Whiteville. The shelter at Guideway Elementary School is closed.

     Shelters in Horry are open at Loris Elementary School, North Myrtle Beach High School, Ocean Drive Elementary School, Whitmore Park Middle School, City of Conway Parks and Recreation, and Horry Georgetown Tech’s Grand Strand campus.

     Those going to shelters need to bring their own supplies including identification, batteries, bedding, toiletries, clothing, and more. Weapons, alcohol and animals are prohibited at the shelters, except Edgewood Elementary, which is pet friendly.

     Those in Horry County who need to evacuate but worry about animals may contact the Horry County Animal Care Center at 843-915-5930.

     Other inquiries may be made to the Horry County Emergency Operations Center Phone Bank at 843-915-5150.

Distribution sites

     Supplies of milk, military style MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat) and tarps for those unable to access them have been distributed across Columbus County and are available at fire departments, including Tabor City and Williams Township, and in through the Fair Bluff Fire Department at the old Auto Parts store there.

     Distribution hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Trash collection

     Waste Industries has resumed normal trash collection, in areas that are accessible, and the county’s Transfer Station is open from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

     Storm debris and construction/demolition materials must be taken to the Transfer Station at the old landfill.

     Household trash will be accepted at the Transfer Station through Thursday, Sept. 27.

FEMA assistance

     Columbus County residents who need housing assistant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency may contact FEMA at 1-800-621-3362 or disasterassistance.gov.

Updates

     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 11:30 a.m.

     Roadway impacts from Hurricane Florence and her associated impacts were climbing in some areas, falling in others as water levels change and Department of Transportation crews effected repairs on Thursday.

     US 701 in the Allsbrook area has re-opened after a washout that split the highway in two and claimed a car earlier was re-filled and paved over late Wednesday.

     Similar work was underway in other areas, including on Red Bluff Road near Hwy 66 south of Loris.

     Waters were rising along the Lumber River, a broad section of SC 9 from SC 905 to near Stephens Crossroads shut down due to the rising water.

     Shelter populations were falling in Columbus County, spokeswoman Michelle Tatum said, expected to rise some in Horry as water levels rise.

     Although levels on the Lumber River were steady or falling Thursday, a National Weather Service forecast indicated a new crest in Lumberton during the weekend, with expectations that the crest would flow downstream, impacting Fair Bluff and Nichols early next week.

     Rising water in Nichols, and authorities there forced Arista Snipes and her husband from her home. She had vowed earlier this week to ride out the flood, hopeful it would not surpass that of Hurricane Matthew in 2016, but those dreams are gone.

Updates

     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 11:30 a.m.

     Roadway impacts from Hurricane Florence and her associated impacts were climbing in some areas, falling in others as water levels change and Department of Transportation crews effected repairs on Thursday.

     US 701 in the Allsbrook area has re-opened after a washout that split the highway in two and claimed a car earlier was re-filled and paved over late Wednesday.

     Similar work was underway in other areas, including on Red Bluff Road near Hwy 66 south of Loris.

     Waters were rising along the Lumber River, a broad section of SC 9 from SC 905 to near Stephens Crossroads shut down due to the rising water.

     Shelter populations were falling in Columbus County, spokeswoman Michelle Tatum said, expected to rise some in Horry as water levels rise.

     Although levels on the Lumber River were steady or falling Thursday, a National Weather Service forecast indicated a new crest in Lumberton during the weekend, with expectations that the crest would flow downstream, impacting Fair Bluff and Nichols early next week.

     Rising water in Nichols, and authorities there forced Arista Snipes and her husband from her home. She had vowed earlier this week to ride out the flood, hopeful it would not surpass that of Hurricane Matthew in 2016, but those dreams are gone.

Updates

     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 7 p.m.

     Longs area residents need to monitor conditions and be prepared to evacuate as the Waccamaw River and tributaries rise in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, Horry County government says.

     Impacted “is the area from Highway 22 north to the North Carolina State Line, from Highway 905 south to Highway 90,” a county news release said.

     “Residents in these areas may soon experience rising flood waters and should be prepared for potential flood impacts. Residents are encouraged to take whatever measures they feel best for their safety and well-being to include evacuation if advisable.”

     Evacuation shelters are open in the area, including ones at Loris and Ocean Drive elementary schools and North Myrtle Beach High.

     For details call the Horry County Emergency Operations Center Phone Bank at 843-915-5150.

Updates

     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 downtown building in Fair Bluff, damaged during Hurricane Matthew, has collapsed as a result of Hurricane Florence, and is again flooded. (Deuce Niven/TLT)

Wednesday 4:30 p.m.

     Water has crested on the Lumber River at Lumberton, for now, the news from the National Weather Service not encouraging for those downstream including Fair Bluff and Nichols.

     That crest in Lumberton mirrors an apparent crest in Fair Bluff Wednesday, but the National Weather Service is forecasting a “secondary crest” during the weekend.

     Lumberton. Fair Bluff and Nichols were devastated by flood waters that followed Hurricane Matthew 23 months ago, the scene in those communities this week familiar in the worst kind of way.

     Water appeared to have crested in Fair Bluff Wednesday, both consulting Town Manager Al Leonard and Fair Bluff Fire/Rescue Assistant Chief Ken Elliott said. Leonard said the river seemed to have been at a steady level for at least a couple of hours in the early afternoon, Elliott said readings from a gage on the Lumber River Bridge on NC 904 were the same.

     Mayor Billy Hammond said the crest, for now, seemed very similar to that of Matthew, and that his hopes that the river would not invade the new Town Hall in the former BB&T building east of the former Town Hall on Main Street have been realized, so far.

Water from the Lumber River invades Fair Bluff Baptist Church for the second time in 23 months. (Deuce Niven/TLT)

     A view from the river that is now Main Street in the downtown business district was similar to that in October 2016. Yoko’s, the town’s Japanese restaurant and the only business to re-open in the business district since Matthew, is again flooded.

     So are the rest of the downtown buildings, including the U.S. Post Office, with water once again inside the facility, closed for months after Hurricane Matthew.

     At Fair Bluff Baptist Church the water was just shy of the top step at the main entrance into the sanctuary, inside the building through a side door farther back. Hammond said that was similar to Matthew, too, with water into the sanctuary in 2016, but not completely covering the floor.

     An older brick building just east of the church, already in bad shape, collapsed under the weight of rain water trapped on its roof sometime during the storm, FBFR Chief Travis Causey said.

     Water was again over the R.J. Corman railroad track in front of the former Fair Bluff Fire/Rescue station downtown, and again inside the facility the department was forced to abandon after Matthew.

     Those levels, Causey said, were similar to that of Matthew.

Curfew cancelled

     A countywide curfew has been cancelled in Columbus County, effective immediately, a county news release late Wednesday afternoon said.

Highway collapse on Red Bluff Road, south of Loris. (Jenn Boyd/TLT)

Waccamaw

     Rising water along the Waccamaw River was having real impacts downstream from Lake Waccamaw. More than 100 people were evacuated from homes in the Crusoe area Tuesday, and as the water moved into Horry County, it flooded SC 9, forcing state Department of Transportation officials to shut down the four-lane highway in both directions.

     Dozens of other roadways were closed by flooding from rising waters, or from water that rushed through from heavy rains following as what by then was Tropical Depression Florence pummeled an area from central Horry County north through central Columbus and into Bladen County Sunday night.

     Examples of roadways crumbling abound in both Horry and Columbus counties, including a section of Red Bluff Road, just south of holly Hill Road south of Loris, where the pavement has collapsed almost to the center line.

     Other road closings in Horry reported by the SCDOT include sections of SC 9, us 701, Daisy Road, Hwy 19, Hwy 501, Hwy 45, Hwy 67, Live Oak Church Road, Old Buck Creek Road,

Columbus solid waste

     Waste Industries is poised to resume normal trash collection services effective tomorrow, Thursday, a news release from county government said.

     Service will reopen at the Columbus County Transfer Station at the old landfill at 7:30 a.m. Thursday, operating hours until noon, then from 12:30 to 4 p.m.

     “Long wait times are to be expected,” the news releases said. “All storm debris must be taken to the Columbus County Transfer Station.  There will be no charge to dispose of this material.”

Trash cannot be mixed with storm debris. Anyone attempting to dump debris mixed with trash will be required to sort the trash out.

     “All storm construction and demolition materials, as well as roofing materials, must be taken to the Columbus County Transfer Station,” the news release said. “Fees must be paid upon disposal at the facility at a rate of $58.93 per ton.”

     Citizens may take additional household trash to the transfer station at no cost through Thursday, Sept. 27.

Wright reunion cancelled

     A tradition since 1882, the annual Wright Reunion (descendants of Stephen Wright (1800 – 1852) and Amelia Fowler Wright (1805 – 1869), has been cancelled for only the second time, Tabor City attorney O. Richard Wright said.

     Scheduled for this Sunday at Forest Lawn Baptist Church, the reunion “has been cancelled because of the many road closures and rising swamps and rivers.” Wright said. “So many of our relatives from Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach, Southport, Wilmington, Hampstead, Lumberton and other places are basically isolated.”

Updates

     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.

NC Forest Service and Tabor City Fire Dept. personnel distribute food, water and tarps at the TCFD Wednesday. (Deuce Niven, TLT)

Wednesday 12:30 p.m.

     Emergency supplies of food, water and tarps have been distributed to fire departments across Columbus County, and more will be coming, emergency officials say.

     Supplied delivered during the day Tuesday at the Tabor City Fire Department went largely untouched, until about 6 p.m., Fire Chief Jerry Hodges said.

     “From 6 0’clock on, it was on,” Hodges said. “We ran out.”

     Supplies include military style MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat), bottled water and tarps, the later perhaps more difficult to find in Tabor City this week.

NC Forest Service personnel deliver supplies at the Tabor City Fire Dept. Wednesday morning. (Deuce Niven, TLT)

     Electrical power was restored in town early Monday, and businesses are generally operating on normal schedules.

     That’s not the case in many surrounding areas, with rising flood waters taking a toll on river communities including Fair Bluff, Nichols and along the Waccamaw River.

     Highways are closed as a result, including US 74 at Boardman and east of Whiteville, SC 9 at SC 410, NC 905, and others.

     U.S. 701 in Whiteville, closed after Soules Swamp overflowed its banks, has re-opened and that highway is clear to Elizabethtown.

School is out

     Perhaps a foregone conclusion, the Horry County Schools have joined Columbus County Schools in closing for the rest of the week, a decision on next week expected Sunday. Supt. Rick Maxey, Ph.D. made the announcement. Below is the full text:

Dear HCS Family,

     I want to thank personally all of our HCS families for their patience as we continue to respond to and recover from the impacts of Hurricane Florence.

     Over the last few days, many of our dedicated HCS employees have been working diligently to ensure that all of our school buildings and properties are safe for the return of students, teachers, administrators, and support staff; that our utilities and computer servers are up and running; and that we have ample food to operate our cafeterias.

     However, the challenges that remain for HCS are the bus transportation routes around the flooded areas that currently impact roads, as well as the forecasted flooding that may impact travel into next week. In addition, we have a significant number of teachers, support staff, and HCS families who have not yet been able to return home due to the major roadway complications in North Carolina or who have been temporarily displaced due to localized flooding.

     After extensive meetings with our district staff and consultation with Horry County Emergency Management, who has asked that schools be on standby to support potentially displaced flood victims, we feel that it is in the best interest of our entire HCS community for schools to remain closed for the rest of this week. We will work closely with our local and state officials as they monitor these historic flooding challenges that our county may face over the next two weeks. Our next school update will be made by 12 p.m. on Sunday, September 23, 2018.

     As conditions allow, all 240 and 246-day employees are asked to report as normally scheduled this week. Please stay in touch with your immediate supervisor regarding your work status.

     In closing, the decisions that must be made by state and local governments and school districts following a disaster are challenging ones. Life safety and the protection of property are, of course, everyone’s first priority. The safety and well-being of over 44,000 students (our children) and almost 6,000 employees are responsibilities I take very seriously. I believe we, as a District, are making the best decisions we can with the historic flooding issue before us that is literally changing by the hour.

     Again, I thank you for your patience and understanding, as HCS will be here to support our entire community during this difficult time.

Updates

     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.