Rising waters have Conway residents hoping for the best and fearing the worst
Crabtree Swamp sits behind Jim Shelley’s Conway property and he walks along his yard pointing out the dark lines about four feet up on each trunk in the distance.
The lines show the high water mark during Hurricane Matthew flooding.
Three days ago, Shelley could have walked next to the trees to show the marks, but on Sunday he was stopped yards away. Now the recently dry swamp is replaced by waist-high water just in the distance that inches closer to those lines.
“In Matthew, it went all the way up almost to the apartment behind my house,” Shelley said of the flood waters, expecting Florence to be worse. “I’m afraid it’s going to get into the apartment. If it’s two feet higher it will probably get into the garage and things like that.”
Shelley, like other residents near Busbee Street in Conway, are left with nothing to do but wait for the flood waters expected to reach their maximum height later this week.
Busbee Street saw extensive flooding following Hurricane Matthew and expects the same for Florence.
Shelley put a measuring stick in the swamp on Saturday and by Sunday only the top few inches were visible above the waters. He said the level rose by two feet overnight.
With rising waters, Shelley said he didn’t plan to flee his home though he would like the floods to stay below the dark tree lines.
“This home was built in 1957, and it’s never flooded,” he said.
Standing water already blocked some roads in the neighborhood including Long Avenue Extension. In one area, the impending flood started to cover roads near Trinity church. The knee-deep waters also surrounded a home across the street.
Neighbors cleared down branches from Florence and worked to place sandbags around their home ahead of more floods.
Waters already covered a couple of chairs in Lex Johnson’s yard and were looking to do the same to a bench a bit farther inland. Police already blocked off the road leading to his home.
The flowing water in a yard might concern some, but Johnson said it was a good sign. If the swamp water moves that means it’s still feeding into the nearby Waccamaw River. When the river current stops, the swamp follows and floods grow.
“It gets more uncomfortable every time this happens,” Johnson said as rains from the last bands of Florence pounded his already soaked clothes.
Johnson said he’s been watching river monitoring stations and elevated the furniture in his home. He joked that he had a boat so if the floods get too high, he will load up his wife, a couple of dogs and escape to safety.
“We can get to dry land if we need to,” he said.
Flood waters after Matthew reached the steps of Johnson’s home. Another two feet higher and his floors would have been underwater. He hopes Florence stays at the steps.
“You got to ask for all the prayers,” Johnson said, “and thank Him in the morning when you see grass.”