partlycloudy
Saturday September 22nd, 2018 1:28AM

2 years after disastrous flood, Florence scares small town

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

NICHOLS, S.C. (AP) — One woman left town. Another prays her house might somehow be spared again. And one man will just wait and watch and hope the water doesn't rise.

Few places in South Carolina are more worried about the possibility of disastrous inland flooding from Hurricane Florence's heavy rain than Nichols. When Hurricane Matthew dumped a foot (30 centimeters) of rain on the area two years ago, the town 40 miles (65 kilometers) in from the coast lost almost 90 percent of its 261 homes.

Forecasters said Florence could bring more than 20 inches (51 centimeters) of rain to Nichols and the surrounding area as the storm slowly crosses the state over the next few days, touching off catastrophic flash flooding.

"You've done all this to rebuild and you are better prepared, but here you are again, staring down the barrel," Nichols Mayor Lawson Battle said.

Nichols' problem during Matthew in 2016 wasn't the rain falling on the town so much as the backup of water from the swollen Little Pee Dee and Lumber Rivers, which meet just downstream. One man drowned after he refused to leave his home.

Back in 2016, Kathy Finger fell asleep after Matthew's rains ended. She woke up to a strange noise and found water up to her ankles. It was up to her knees before a truck rescued her and others and took them to Town Hall, where they eventually found themselves surrounded by water and had to be rescued by boats the next morning.

On Thursday, Finger was headed for Columbia, well inland, instead of taking her chances again in her rebuilt home.

"Nothing has changed from the last time," she said.

Thomas Lee noticed the water rising that night two years ago and called his brother-in-law, who came by in a dump truck. They rescued several others before the water got too high for them. Lee's shed still has a grimy, wiggly water line some 4 feet (1.2 meters) above the floor.

The town had 22 businesses in 2016. It has 11 now. Main Street is full of boarded-up storefronts, from the old pharmacy to the auto parts store. Lee's home is one of about 150 that were repaired or rebuilt. About 80 homes remain uninhabitable or were torn down, the mayor said.

Lee is staying but plans to watch carefully out his window. If he sees any water coming toward his house, he is either driving away or calling for help again.

"If it floods like this again, you can just tell Nichols goodbye," Lee said.

One of the few houses in Nichols that didn't flood during Matthew was the nearly 100-year-old home Jodi Pajaro inherited from her grandmother. Pajaro was out of town when the flooding started, and water crept toward her house from all sides, stopping just feet away. She had to reach her house by boat and grab what she could five days later. She didn't return permanently for a month.

"It kind of makes you wonder — can I be this blessed twice?" Pajaro said as a few raindrops spit from gray skies.

Nichols' mayor has spent days on the phone with county and state emergency officials. The flood was a surprise in 2016. If it floods in 2018, rescue crews are ready, and help from all areas will come quickly, Battle said.

"Everybody keeps asking me what we need," Battle said of the numerous planning calls. "Right now, I'm taking prayers."

___

Follow Jeffrey Collins on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JSCollinsAP

Read his work at https://apnews.com/search/jeffrey%20collins

___

For the latest on Hurricane Florence, visit https://www.apnews.com/tag/Hurricanes

___

Meg Kinnard contributed to this report from Columbia, South Carolina.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines
© Copyright 2018 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
'Catastrophic' freshwater flooding expected over Carolinas
Hurricane Florence already has inundated coastal streets with ocean water and left tens of thousands without power, and forecasters say "catastrophic" freshwater flooding is expected over portions of the Carolinas
3:26AM ( 7 minutes ago )
LEADING OFF: Indians can clinch, Cubs' new closer hurt
LEADING OFF: Indians can clinch, Cubs' new closer hurt, Scherzer faces Braves, Diamondbacks in Houston
2:42AM ( 51 minutes ago )
Cuomo cruises past Nixon in NY gubernatorial primary
Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has defeated primary challenger Cynthia Nixon
2:34AM ( 58 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Koreas open 1st liaison office for better communication
The rival Koreas have opened their first liaison office near their tense border to facilitate better communication and exchanges
1:47AM ( 1 hour ago )
Federal court rules against DeVos in for-profit fraud case
A federal court has ruled it was "arbitrary and capricious" for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to delay an Obama-era rule meant to protect students swindled by for-profit colleges
1:40AM ( 1 hour ago )
WHAT'S HAPPENING: Florence will pose fatal threat for days
Hurricane Florence's winds may have weakened, but this is still no "minor" storm
1:37AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
'It looked like Armageddon:' Deadly gas blasts destroy homes
A series of gas explosions killed a teen and left at least 10 other people injured, one critically, and ignited fires in at least 39 homes in three communities north of Boston on Thursday
11:29PM ( 4 hours ago )
No progress as US, Cuba meet on mysterious 'health attacks'
Cuba said Thursday the United States is continuing to withhold important information that could help in the investigation into mysterious incidents that have injured some two dozen Havana-based American diplomats
11:23PM ( 4 hours ago )
'Threat becomes reality': Florence begins days of rain, wind
The outer bands of Hurricane Florence are lashing the Carolina coast at the start of what forecasters say will be days of potentially disastrous rain and wind
11:07PM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Online National News
Cuomo defeats Nixon in NY gubernatorial primary
Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has defeated primary challenger Cynthia Nixon to win his party's nomination for a third term
11:34PM ( 3 hours ago )
The Latest: Democratic socialist Salazar wins NY primary
Democratic socialist Julia Salazar has overcome scrutiny of her personal life and questions about truthfulness to win the Democratic primary for a state Senate seat in Brooklyn
9:44PM ( 5 hours ago )
Ailing killer whale is declared dead off Northwest US coast
Efforts to find an ailing orca from a critically endangered population of killer whales off Washington state have come up empty, and a scientist who tracks them has declared her dead
9:03PM ( 6 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
LEADING OFF: Indians can clinch, Cubs' new closer hurt
LEADING OFF: Indians can clinch, Cubs' new closer hurt, Scherzer faces Braves, Diamondbacks in Houston
2:42AM ( 51 minutes ago )
Cuomo cruises past Nixon in NY gubernatorial primary
Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has defeated primary challenger Cynthia Nixon
2:34AM ( 59 minutes ago )
Elizabeth Smart says kidnapper being released still a threat
Elizabeth Smart said Thursday the news that one of her kidnappers will be released from prison next week was "a big shock," and she hopes there is a way the woman can be committed to a treatment facility.
2:32AM ( 1 hour ago )
Trump disputes estimate of Puerto Rico storm deaths
President Donald Trump is rejecting the official death toll from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico
2:31AM ( 1 hour ago )
Trump complicates Florida GOP's play for Puerto Rican voters
Top Florida Republicans say President Donald Trump is wrong about the death toll in Puerto Rico
2:29AM ( 1 hour ago )