Town of Nichols uses FEMA grant to find solutions to prevent devastating floods

Updated: Oct. 17, 2019 at 11:13 PM EDT
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NICHOLS, S.C. (WMBF) - Flooding nearly washed out one Pee Dee town not once but twice and now leaders have taken big steps to try and keep it from happening again.

Two major hurricanes, two years apart, devastated the town is Nichols.

The first was in 2016 when Hurricane Matthew hit and the second round of flooding came in 2018 during the aftermath of Hurricane Florence. The town is still trying to recover from both storms.

As part of the recovery, town officials hired a Woolpert, an architecture, engineering and geospatial firm, through FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. The firm has been evaluating flooding problems and mitigation opportunities by collecting data over the last several months.

“We’ve looked at a number of different potential causes and what we’ve found is that it’s just the amount of rain in this area that the watershed has experienced was the principal cause. There are some things that may have contributed to flooding like construction in the river and debris and ditches that weren’t maintained," said Harold Clarkson, who is the project’s director.

A problem the firm is expecting to face when it comes to putting solutions in place is funding, but, the firm still has a plan.

“Maybe a smaller levee and some sections of levees, couple that with elevating as many homes as we can get funding to elevate. Looking at ways that we can floodproof your business,” Clarkson said

Clarkson said the firm has focused specifically on the Nichols area but these ideas and concepts could help other areas seeing flooding of this magnitude.

“The data we’ve used is very similar to what anyone else would use. I also know the South Carolina Disaster Recovery Office has an effort going on looking at the same watershed but from a broader extent,” Clarkson said.

These possible solutions are still being discussed and the town will have to decide which one they believe will be best and most affordable.

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