After more than 30 years living along the Waccamaw River, Ted and Connie Hucks know flooding is coming after the downpour brought by Hurricane Florence. They just prepare a little differently than everyone else.
Down on Faulk Landing Road in the Shell community just east of Conway, the Hucks were putting the finishing touches Monday afternoon on a temporary plywood walking bridge that they can use to escape their home if it floods worse than ever before.
The bridge, about five feet tall, spans about 30 yards from their front porch to higher ground, where the Hucks have parked their cars for a quick getaway.
“There’s no place like home, so you don’t want to leave unless you absolutely have to,” Connie Hucks said. “We’ll probably stay here as long as we can.”
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The Hucks were just one of many families in rural, riverside communities in Horry County that were closely watching news reports and river projections late Monday.
Some have been told by local officials to expect flooding as bad or worse as Hurricane Matthew in 2016, when water from torrential rains in North Carolina flowed downstream and flooded entire S.C. neighborhoods.
The Waccamaw River was at 15.1 feet by late Monday, four feet above flood stage. It was expected to pass the 17.9-foot record by Friday.
“All these riverside towns, I’m worried to death for them,” U.S. Rep. Tom Rice, R-Myrtle Beach, told The Sun News on Monday.
A few streets over in the Shell community, 51-year-old teaching assistant Terri Capps and her family were riding golf carts and occasionally checking for updates at their farm on Doodle Hill Lane. They don’t expect flood water to overcome a steep hill to flood their home, but they were not as optimistic for the family’s river house down the road.
“We’ve all been watching the news,” Capps said. “The river has risen quite a bit.”
In Red Bluff, rainwater from Florence still trickles like veins along bumpy dirt roads or stands as small ponds in driveways, ditches and yards. More could be on the way soon, this time from the meandering Waccamaw.
But on Red Bluff Road, just a few hundred yards from the flooded river, Lauch Martin isn’t worried about the home he has lived in for 15 years. The home hasn’t flooded since he moved in, and he just got power back on Sunday.
The river had escaped its banks Monday afternoon, nearly overtopping the Red Bluff Road bridge, which was been closed by local officials, but the water had a long way to rise before it would reach Martin’s home.
“I keep checking to see what they’re gonna say,” the 45-year-old business owner said of local officials.
A few streets over on Stalvey’s Antique Lane, 22-year-old Bianca Farewell was still plugging leaks left by Florence and was not optimistic about its aftermath.
The storm had punched three holes in the metal roof of her mobile home and surrounded it with about a foot of flash flooding.
She knows the flooding could be worse in a few days if the Waccamaw shatters its own records.
“Yeah!” she said when asked if she is nervous. “There’s alligators and everything in that water! If I have to go somewhere, I’m going to go somewhere. But if I don’t, I’ll have no choice but to stick it out.”
Reach Wilks at 803-771-8362. Follow him on Twitter @AveryGWilks.