Ian Brings 'catastrophic' Flooding Along South Carolina Coast


As scenes of Hurricane Ian’s apocalyptic destruction across Florida continued to unfold, the massive storm took aim at South Carolina’s shore.

High-water rescue teams saved countless numbers of people who were stranded or trapped in coastal towns Friday after Ian’s storm surge submerged roads, stalled vehicles and swept into homes. In Litchfield, South Carolina, rescue crews had to trudge through waist-deep floodwaters to reach residents and pets. Less than five miles south of Litchfield, local police at Pawleys Island, South Carolina, described the flooding as “catastrophic” and documented the end of a pier collapsing before it floated away. Video of water rescues in the town showed floodwaters lapping at the front doors of homes, the roads completely submerged.

Ian made its third United States landfall Friday afternoon around 2:05 p.m. EDT near Georgetown, South Carolina, with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph — a Category 1 hurricane.

While the storm had lost a majority of its intensity, Ian was still a force to reckon with as its storm surge trapped people in their homes and plunged hundreds of thousands into the dark as it downed power lines.

At Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, the preliminary report of storm surge was the highest on record at 4.18 feet, surpassing the storm surge from Hurricane Joaquin (2015) and Hurricane Florence (2018).

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Florida, Georgia, Virginia and the Carolinas all declared a state of emergency ahead of Hurricane Ian, with South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster warning of heavy rain and significant storm surge along the coastline.

Ian unleashed near 100-mile-per-hour wind gusts along the South Carolina coastline Friday, with a 92-mph gust recorded at Shutes Folly, located in the Folly Island Channel east of downtown Charleston and roughly 60 miles southwest of Georgetown.

Crews from the South Carolina Department of Transportation have responded to over 500 calls for downed trees following the storm, according to the department.

The strong winds contributed to power outages across the Southeast, resulting in a combined 2 million customers without power in Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia by Friday evening, according to PowerOutage.US. The majority of these outages were focused in Florida, where some 1.5 million people remained without power following Ian’s first two landfalls over the U.S. — one over a barrier island and the other on the peninsula’s mainland. More than 300,000 customers across North Carolina and South Carolina were without power as of Friday evening.

South Carolina’s Charleston County declared a state of emergency Thursday ahead of landfall, opening shelters for people who needed a place to ride out the storm. Buses were available to transport people to shelters until strong winds made the drive too dangerous, and officials warned people living on the barrier islands or low-lying areas that historically flood to move to higher ground.

As much as 18 inches of floodwater was recorded on the east side of Charleston by the Union Pier Terminal, AccuWeather National Reporter Jillian Angeline said.

Georgetown County, where Ian made landfall, didn’t issue an evacuation order, but advised residents in low-lying and flood-prone areas to “keep a close eye on conditions.” The county didn’t open shelters for the event and didn’t distribute sandbags, adding that sandbags were available at most hardware stores.

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Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg told AccuWeather that the intensity of the storm did not necessitate an evacuation order, but they did ask citizens to stay home and stay off the roads.

Produced in association with AccuWeather.

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