CCU unveils new program to address flooding in Horry, Georgetown counties

Updated: May. 17, 2021 at 11:03 PM EDT
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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - Groundbreaking research is underway to address flooding in Horry and Georgetown counties.

Coastal Carolina University unveiled its new Smart River Research program on Monday during an event at the Osprey Marina. The program is headed by the school’s Burroughs and Chapin Center for Marine and Wetland studies.

Through advanced technology, the center aims to aid the Pee Dee/Waccamaw Basin by monitoring, gauging and developing strategies to address ongoing flooding issues.

During a demonstration along the Intracoastal Waterway, crews deployed a side-scan sonar, which will help provide information on the seabed like the depth and roughness.

CCU graduate Trevor Carver said all of these elements are key to better monitoring flooding and future impacts for homeowners.

“We want to prevent you from moving into a house that may be a risk five years from now, but hasn’t been at risk for the last 10 years,” Carver said, “It’s important for homeowners to have that information before buying a home.

Several state and local leaders spoke at the event including Sen. Stephen Goldfinch, Rep. Heather Ammons Crawford, Paul Gayes, who is the director of the Burroughs & Chapin Center for Marine and Wetland Studies, as well as Tom Mullikin, the chair of the S.C. Floodwater Commission.

“We have people every single year, multiple times a year that have been displaced by the floodwaters. It literally stops their life in their tracks,” Goldfinch said.

Horry County resident April O’Leary founded a Facebook group that advocated for residents affected by ongoing flooding.

She said she’s excited about what the new program will bring, but more so about how leaders will use the information to make real change.

“We can have the best studies and the best modeling in the world, but if we’re still building in the swamp, that’s not going to get us where we need to be to be a resilient county,” O’Leary said.

CCU said the program is made possible through partnerships with multiple agencies like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric, the Duke Energy Foundation, as well as the state Boating and Fishing Alliance.

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