Hartsville Storm Summary

City of Hartsville Public Information Officer Lauren Baker says lessons learned from Hurricane Matthew in 2016 helped the city better prepare for Hurricane Florence.

“Once we knew the storm was headed this way, team members began prepping and talking. There was a ton of communication about ways to improve,” says Baker.

Hartsville public works crews began cleaning out storm drains ahead of the heavy rains, and the city requested that residents not place yard debris street side as the grass clippings and leaves would re-block the drains and cause ponding on roads. The city also distributed about 5,000 sandbags, which residents could pick up and fill at the fire department.

The city’s Emergency Operations Center came online Thursday at noon, and generators were on standby to keep staff and first responders informed and in contact just in case power went out. Baker says the city also made sure enough food and beverages were available to keep emergency crews fed and hydrated as they worked.

“You have all these emergency personnel and public service working around the clock, so we had a really good plan to keep our people fed and focused and working, so they could do everything they needed to do once the storm hit,” says Baker, noting that many community members brought food donations, just in case they were needed.

As word of power outages, downed trees, and flooded roads came in, the city stayed in communication with Duke Energy and public safety personnel to address problems as quickly as possible.

“We were constantly putting up barricades and trying to keep people away from flooded roads, and also trying to clear those roads where we could. We had a fire truck pumping water out of Fifth Street so we could open it back up as quickly as possible. We also had a post on Facebook with road closings that was constantly updated,” Baker says.

Baker says the city kept close watch on local waterways to keep the public advised about possible post-storm flooding around Prestwood Lake, Black Creek, and Lake Robinson. As levels rose at Prestwood and flooded Sonoco’s paper mill, residents worried about encroaching floodwater.
The Town of Lamar donated about 3,000 unused sandbags from their own storm prep. A fire crew from Columbia came in to cover the station for a while and give city firefighters (who had worked six days straight) a much needed break. Baker also says a swift water rescue team from Louisiana came to town in case conditions worsened.

Author: Rachel Howell

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