The National Weather Service now predicts the Waccamaw River will crest Saturday at 16 feet in the Conway area, just shy of last year’s massive flood levels.
That assessment Monday revised the federal agency’s earlier forecast that the river would reach 17 feet on Oct. 17. Now, the river will rise just two inches short of last year’s flood, which was the third-highest crest in history.
No water level forecasts are available for the Intracoastal Waterway, but based on rainfall from Hurricane Matthew, it might be comparable to last year, said Richard Neuherz with the National Weather Service.
The storm dropped around 10 inches of rain in Horry County.
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In the Longs area, the Waccamaw is expected to crest at 19 feet on Wednesday or Thursday, which would exceed flooding experienced after Hurricane Floyd that reached 17.6 feet, the National Weather Service said.
The crest of the Little Pee Dee River near Galivants Ferry could be the second highest in the history of the site and would be the highest here since 1928. This level is about 3 feet above those of Hurricane Floyd.
The S.C. Natural Resources Department began boat patrols on flooded waterways Sunday to check on residents already cut off by rising waters brought on by the Category 1 storm.
“Flooding from rivers has been unfortunate, and what we are seeing is just a lot of damage,” Gov. Nikki Haley said during a news conference.
State officials are particularly concerned with flooding along the Lumberton, Little Pee Dee and Waccamaw rivers.
Law enforcement officials from DNR and the S.C. Law Enforcement Division say they will patrol the rivers throughout the flood event to assist with rescues and security.
“We will also have patrol in those rivers at night, with aerial assets to keep individuals from coming in and looting those homes,” said Alvin Taylor, DNR director.
Mark Keel, SLED chief, urged sightseers to stay off the river for safety reasons, and to prevent even more destruction to houses along the waterways.
The wake caused by passing boats creates waves that roll through flooded homes, causing severe damage, Keel said.
Horry County Emergency Management issued a code red alert Saturday telling residents along the Waccamaw River and Intracoastal Waterway to monitor the rising flood waters. The river has already reached major flood stage, and on Monday afternoon was at 15.11 feet.
Neuherz says that several residential neighborhoods will be flooded, including Lees Landing, Riverfront South, Savannah Bluff, Pitch Landing and Bucksville.
The railroad trestles in downtown Conway will flood when the river reaches 15.9 feet.