“Due to unprecedented flooding from Hurricane Florence, our paper mill operations in Hartsville have been shut down temporarily. Certain operations remain flooded and have experienced damage which could require them to be down for several weeks,” said a Sept. 18 news release from the company.
Fortunately, floodwaters receded much faster than normal, and paper mill employees returned to work just a few days later to begin the rebuilding process.
“As I’ve been here in Hartsville throughout this event, I can’t tell you how impressed I’ve been with how our team has handled themselves, and by the resilience, commitment and ingenuity of our teammates who have worked tirelessly around the clock to mitigate as much damage as possible from what is looking like an unprecedented event,” said Sonoco president and CEO Rob Tiede. “The unsolicited outpouring of support from our teammates around the world, and here at home, speaks volumes about the character of this company and the people who choose to call Sonoco home.”
Several other facilities at Sonoco’s headquarters and across the Carolinas were impacted by Hurricane Florence as well, but most have resumed operations after minimal downtime or damage.
During the storm and the aftermath, officials from Sonoco and Darlington County Emergency Management kept a close watch on Prestwood Lake levels. Darlington County and the City of Darlington issued warnings to residents that if the lake overtopped its dam, further flooding along Black Creek could result. Fortunately, lake levels began to drop by midweek.
“Water levels on Prestwood Lake and the Black Creek in Hartsville continue to recede and there is no danger of the Sonoco’s dam in Hartsville overtopping,” said a Sept. 19 update from the company.
“Water flows from the Sonoco’s dam are back to near normal operating ranges, although the creek remains out of its banks at the Sonoco Hartsville Manufacturing Complex. Based on current assessments, Sonoco believes there is no threat of additional flooding to the Hartsville area, and water levels on the Black Creek continue to lessen, which should help to mitigate the potential for further flooding downstream.
“Sonoco, along with Duke Energy’s Lake Robinson operations, have been in constant communication with Darlington County, City of Hartsville and state officials to assure the safety of county residents in the Black Creek watershed before and after Hurricane Florence came through the Pee Dee region of South Carolina. While water levels are receding, all parties are continuing to monitor water flows along Black Creek through the weekend and updates will be provided as necessary.”