Flood waters swelled to historic heights in Socastee’s Rosewood Drive neighborhood Monday as bloated rivers from Hurricane Matthew, which hit more than a week ago, flooded the Intracoastal Waterway.
Some residents — hardy from years of surviving the occasional flood along the waterway — were determined to stick it out as long as electricity and water supplies lasted. Others fled to drier land. And although many were prepared, no one expected this much flooding.
“We moved here when I was 12, in ’92. We’ve seen it flood in (Hurricane) Floyd, and last year in October, it flooded again,” said Brian Rogers, who lives across the street from his parents, Claudia and Paul Rogers, on Rosewood Drive. “Then the Hurricane (Matthew) came, it flooded really bad, it went back out and then since then it’s just steady coming up and up and up.”
The rising, blackened water hiding everything that lurked in its murky depths swirled around mailboxes, swallowing vehicles and the lower levels of homes on its journey out to sea. What once were streets were now flowing rivers.
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Hurricane Matthew first flooded the area on Oct. 8.
“Initially, the water rose about maybe a little over two feet,” said Claudia Rogers. “It came up very rapidly. But by the next day, within 24 hours, the water was just in the backyard, not under the house.”
A couple of days later, the Intracoastal Waterway behind their house started to rise … again. This time it was about four-and-a-half feet deep in Claudia Rogers’ garage.
Hurricane Floyd “was nothing like this. We’ve been saying that for days because they’ve been comparing it to Floyd, and we’re like, ‘No way, it’s higher. It’s got to be higher,’” Brian Rogers said. He and his brother, Michael Rogers, came over to help his parents move important items to higher shelves, a chore that has become a daily ritual.
Forecasters said the record for the Intracoastal Waterway was set at 16.8 feet after a hurricane blew through in 1928. Monday morning, it was measured at 19.1 feet with the level predicted to rise through Wednesday.
Claudia Rogers was using a 6-foot-tall birdhouse in her backyard to gauge the rising depths, until the birdhouse became completely submerged Monday.
“Everything meets in the streets and from there it just goes,” Brian Rogers said. “Normally with this current, the way it’s going, that means everything is going out, but in this case it’s just continuing to rise.”
In Hurricane Floyd, the Rogers say the water level may have been about half or a little more than half of what they were seeing Monday.
In river assessments from the National Weather Service in Wilmington, forecasters haven’t said much about the Intracoastal Waterway. The assessments included the Pee Dee River cresting and starting to subside and the Waccamaw River continuing to rise to a predicted crest Monday night, but the reports didn’t mention the waterway the great rivers flow into.
The flood waters along Claudia Rogers’ home had risen six inches since Sunday and swelled another four inches in a span of two hours Monday morning, her sons said.
“For the most part everybody was somewhat prepared. We got our vehicles out of here. We got our freezers up as high as we could get them and stuff like that. But everything that we put up down here, you know, we’ve had to come and move again,” Brian Rogers said.
The items they moved to a higher shelf were now inches away from the rising water level.
“Today is the first day I’ve really thought about how devastating and overwhelming it is as the water continues to rise,” Claudia Rogers said. “We’ve never seen it this high. And you can sort of go, ‘Okay, okay, a couple of more inches and it will be okay,’ but when we’re moving things in the garage that are over my head typically and the water is only a few inches from it, that’s a little scary.”
Jeff Gibbins was using a window to enter and exit his home on Cottonwood Drive. It was the only way he could get in and out now, he said, as the water lapped at sandbags stacked along his front door.
He said he planned to stay as long as the water stayed outside.
“It’s up past the door, but my sandbags are holding it off for now,” Gibbins said. But not all of his neighbors were able to deploy sandbags in time.
“It’s devastating for whole families. Not just one person,” he said.