Horry County fire rescue adjusting shifts; adding crews to prepare for flood rescues

Horry County Fire Rescue

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Plans are underway to protect you against the threat of the rising Waccamaw River.  Horry County Fire Rescue is adjusting schedules to make sure more people are on hand as they anticipate even more water rescues.

Conway's Crab Tree Swamp drains into the Waccamaw River.  The swamp is up higher than it was from the flooding in October 2015, residents said.  It's receded since it was at it's highest Monday, but is expected to rise any day as the river crests.

Some people in the Sherwood Drive and Long Avenue area had to be evacuated over the weekend because of Hurricane Matthew flooding. Horry County Fire Rescue is anticipating this happening to many more people, who won't be able to get out.

So to get ready, the department is operating on two shift rotations instead of three. First responders will work 24 hours on, 24 hours off.  This new schedule replaces a 24 hours on, 48 hours off schedule.

"Guys will be working a little bit more, but that work load will be a little bit less," HCFR Battalion Chief and spokesman Brian Van Aernem said.

He also said more than 150 fire rescue members are on duty at one time now. This new schedule will last until Friday, and then be re-assessed.

The 30 or so members of water rescue are ready to go and have a brand new twenty-one foot rescue boat to aid them in their flood relief efforts. Battalion Chief Dan Shankle said it will go to good use as flood waters go up. The new boat was needed to replace a boat the department has had for more than fifty years.

He said four Horry County Fire Rescue boats are on stand-by ready to go 24/7, and additional water rescue and medical crews from the midlands are here to help.

"We stress that if you don't have a need to be on the river, then please don't go out doing pleasure rides on the Waccamaw River...or any river while it's in flood stage," Shankle said.

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