On September 6, Hurricane Dorian had left its mark on South Carolina. It initially skirted South Carolina as a Category 3 storm before downgrading to a Category 2 and then a Category 1 as it made landfall along the North Carolina Outer Banks.
Georgetown County had received the wrath of the storm as much as any area in the Palmetto State. As a result, Governor Henry McMaster made Georgetown one of his stops as he visited areas along the coast in Dorian’s wake and mentioned “erosion” experienced in the Pawleys Island and Litchfield areas.
McMaster stated that Dorian was unusual.
“None of them are the same. They never do go where they’re supposed to go,” he said. Dorian slowed down significantly in its travel while maintaining strength over the Bahamas. As a result of the stall, which decimated the Abaco and Grand Bahama islands, the forecast for arrival in the South Carolina area had to be moved back. McMaster caught some public scrutiny for early evacuations after the storm slowed down. However, McMaster defended the mandatory evacuations and said he was not interested in gambling with people’s lives.
According to AccuWeather, Hurricane Dorian marked the fourth year in a row in which the Atlantic Basin experienced a Category 5 hurricane, the strongest level on the Sapphir-Simpson hurricane scale. At 1.3mph, it was the slowest moving hurricane over a 24-hour period. It made six landfalls, including three in the Bahamas as a Category 5 storm. Additionally, it spent nearly seven weeks of Accumulated Cyclone Energy. Dorian had sustained winds of 185mph and gusts over 220mph.
Hurricane Dorian was the second strongest hurricane to make landfall in the Atlantic Basic and the strongest to ever make landfall in the Bahamas on record. It was second only to Hurricane Allen in 1980. Dorian may also be responsible for record-breaking waves with buoys off Newfoundland measuring over 100 feet being attributed to the hurricane.
Dorian will not soon be forgotten. McMaster pointed out that even minimal shifts in the storm could have resulted in much worse consequences for the South Carolina coast. However, he said the crews responsible for emergency management are prepared and experienced, regardless of what might have happened.
“The only thing we can do is be prepared and we’ve got a great team,” McMaster said referencing the units that exist from the state level down to the local level and even the citizens. He was also thankful to coastal residents for a good evacuation.
“Key to it is communication, collaboration and cooperation. We had plenty of that.”
Georgetown Mayor Brenden Barber and State Representative Carl Anderson both praised Governor McMaster for his dedication to the citizens of South Carolina. However, they were both adamant about the role of prayer and God’s mercy in the South Carolina being spared. Additionally, Mayor Barber highlighted the efficiency and teamwork that was exhibited during the formal emergency.
“We had a very solid, unique plan,” Mayor Barber said. “We’ve moved from being a team to a family. It was a genuine care for one another as a city, as a county, as a state.”
While SC Department of Transportation crews were working to remove three to four feet of sand from some roadways on Pawleys Island, Governor McMaster and United States Representative Tom Rice were sure to remind anyone listening that coastal towns were open for business and not to hesitate to vacation.
“We are open for business,” Rice said. “If you’re looking for a vacation, now is the time. We look forward to seeing you.”
Every speaker was sure to recognize the teams in the Emergency Operations Centers. In fact, Rep. Anderson stated on record that everyone associated with the EOCs would get an extra day off.
In regards to the future of Georgetown which sees flooding on a regular basis, McMasters said they were “accumulating data.” He also mentioned a Floodwater Commission which is considering strategies to mitigate natural disaster issues in South Carolina, specifically along the coast.
The commission reported its initial findings on August 26. Visit https://governor.sc.gov/executive-branch/south-carolina-floodwater-commission to see the report. They are currently accepting public comment through October 24. Comments can be made through email at firstname.lastname@example.org or through classic mail delivery at:
South Carolina Floodwater Commission
Office of the Governor
South Carolina Statehouse
1100 Gervais Street
Columbia, SC 29201