Aiken County, SC – A rain system passing through the Palmetto State has very little to do with Hurricane Joaquin, but could bring the largest amount of water causing flooding to the Aiken area.
The rain has already started and is expected to go through Friday night into the weekend.
“The amount of rain being talked about in the media is really uncharted territory. We’ve not experienced that type of rainfall in the state at all,” Emergency Management Coordinator Paul Matthews said.
Every helper that you can think of during an emergency will be in the Emergency Operations Center in Aiken County.
“Salvation Army, Red Cross, Baptist Association,” Matthews said as he stood near cubicles assigned to several agencies in EOC.
Along with them will be first responders, emergency administrators, utility and hospital heads answering calls and referring to the operations plan as the safety level or OPCON 3 lowers from partial activation to OPCON 1.
“We have people that are stranded. We’ll do our best to try to help them in that situation. If they’re not in immediate danger we’ll have to wait until water recedes,” said Matthews.
Emergency officials are bracing for possibly 10 to 15 inches of rainwater that could flood Aiken County within 48 hours. Extra ambulances will be on call this weekend. And those homes near hillsides and of course near water should know they will be impacted for sure.
County Engineer Joe Berry told us, “You can expect water to top Powderhouse Road, which is on the south side of town. Down on Highway 421, especially in the low lying areas, you will probably see some flooding there.”
It’s a tough time for agriculture too. Farmers trying to harvest cotton may see it wet and falling off plants. This is also the middle of peanut harvest, so they could rot. Farm Service Agency State Executive Director Harry Ott also tells us soybeans are getting ready to be harvested and fall vegetables like greens and tomatoes can be impacted.
Berry added, “The trees could give us some difficulty if the wind gets up. The ground is already saturated and it’s a good possibility the roots will not hold the trees in that wet soil.”
Matthews told us the team will assemble throughout the weekend, keeping a close eye on the National Weather Service’s Heavy Rain Potential This Weekend webpage.
Homeowners can sign up for Aiken County’s Code Red program where EMA officials provide them with information.
Matthews also said people should be prepared by getting cash in case ATMs are down, buy food and have an emergency kit ready in case power goes out.
The OPCON crew will assess the safety level based on the number of calls coming into the Sheriff’s Office. They will also get 211 calls for non-emergency help.