Horry County Council wants Duke Energy to ‘step up to the plate’ to help prevent flooding

Horry County Council discusses flooding issues with Duke Energy

HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - Horry County Council wants Duke Energy to “step up to the plate” and help prevent continuous flooding that’s been happening across the Grand Strand.

According to some council members, floods in the county are believed to be attributed to the Duke Power Blewett Falls Hydro Station in North Carolina, nearly a hundred miles away.

A representative with Duke Energy addressed these flooding concerns Tuesday night during the Horry County Council meeting.

”There’s not a silver bullet solution I don’t think,” said Jeff Lineberger, director of water strategy and hyrdo licensing for Duke Energy. “There are about seven large sub bases in the Pee Dee River basin and they all come together down in Winyah Bay near Georgetown. And all of that [water] flow is coming to the low point, the ocean. When we have these storm events, it’s all going to flow downhill. When there’s a wide spread storm event, [all the water] gets here and the water backs up because the ground is so flat and the flow paths are so inner-connected, it can’t drain out fast enough.”

Numerous floods have happened just this year in the Rosewood community in Socastee, impacting families across the area.

According to our news partners MyHorryNews, Councilmember Tyler Servant in February publicly questioned whether a surge of water released near the Blewett Falls Hydro Station caused flooding to be more severe in Horry County. This because the dam sits on the Great Pee Dee River, which flows south to Horry County.

Council members say much of the flooding happens days after a big rain occurs, attributing much of it to water coming down from the Pee Dee River.

“Flooding has been a major problem in our area and we need to get answers about the unreasonable amount of water flowing down the Pee Dee River and how it affects our residents,” Servant said. “Two of their major dams on the Pee Dee River, [Duke Energy] can’t control the water flow for them. So we are at the mercy of Mother Nature and it’s unfortunate they have not made significant investments into their dam system to control their lake levels. The water coming from North Carolina flows into the Waccamaw River. All of that water goes into the Waccamaw River and backs up from the Burgess community to Georgetown, all the way to North Myrtle. It affects all of Horry County.”

Duke Energy representatives say most of the rainfall from the February and May storms occurred in areas not draining to Blewett Falls Lake. When asked what they can do to help manage the flood water, their response was a bit layered.

“We use our two hydro reservoirs in North Carolina on the river basin to help manage flood events,” Lineberger said. “They’re not nearly big enough, don’t have the storage, don’t have the design to be flood control reservoirs, and they’re not going to cut back the river flow that comes from the rain enough to really control that flow.”

After nearly an hour of discussions, council asked Duke Energy if the two parties can work together to find a solution to stop the flooding.

“Can we figure out a way to make it better, yes, with the right people and rights solutions,” Lineberger said. “There’s been some evaluations done in the past, providing canals that will bypass some of the water around the developed areas, which is a “theoretical” potential solution. I think you really need to step back and look at all the potential solutions as well as addressing things from a policy standpoint that will cause future flooding problems. [For example], development in some places may not be the best idea, particularly if it’s an area already prone to flooding, that’s probably not going to get better.”

Our news team asked Servant if he feel’s Duke Energy is willing to work with the county to manage flood waters coming from North Carolina to South Carolina.

“I hope so,” Servant said.”The residents of Horry County hope so too.”

As far as a solution, Chairman Johnny Gardner says that’s going to require a whole lot of work from many parties, including the Army Corps of Engineers.

“It’s going to require a lot of coordination,” Gardner said. “[Flooding] has been happening [in our area] for awhile. I think the Army Corps of Engineers needs to step up, I think North Carolina and South Carolina should coordinate this together. This is a very big emergency for Horry County and we need to get everybody involved, to step up to the plate and do what they can do.”

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