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How Horry County schools are preparing for floods

Sandbags block entrances to Conway Elementary School to protect it from flooding Thursday Sept. 20, 2018, in Conway, SC.
Sandbags block entrances to Conway Elementary School to protect it from flooding Thursday Sept. 20, 2018, in Conway, SC. gmcintyre@thestate.com

Armed with sandbags and tarps, schools in the Conway and Myrtle Beach areas are preparing for flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence.

About 300 sandbags are needed to help protect Palmetto Academy of Learning and Success Charter School from potential flooding. Volunteers, teachers, parents and school staff worked early Thursday morning to fill sandbags and place them around the school building. Teachers worked to move classroom materials to higher parts of their rooms.

Horry County Schools facilities prepared earlier in the week for potential flooding. Lisa Bourcier with HCS said sandbags have been placed at Conway Elementary, Conway High’s field house and the Conway Education Center.

Amber Rogers, a founding member of PALS, said the Thursday’s work was preventative.

“We’re hoping the building won’t flood,” she said. “We have a resilient parent base and phenomenal teachers.”

The PALS preschool remains for now, but the rest of the school is closed. Rogers said if the building does flood, “we will get it opened as soon as possible.”

PALS, located on a frontage road off U.S. 17 near the Myrtle Beach airport since 2013, didn’t flood after Hurricane Matthew two years ago. But the building has flooded a few times, including 18 inches after a pipe busted.

Rogers said they could expect up to 5 feet of flooding in the coming days.

Horry County Schools remain closed this week. Three schools are still serving as shelters — Ocean Drive Elementary, North Myrtle Beach High and Loris Elementary.

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Conway Elementary School is expected flood. Sandbags were placed at the school in preparation of possible flooding. Sept. 20, 2018 Avery G. Wilks awilks@thestate.com

Students have been out of Horry schools since Sept. 11, three days before Florence made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane. By the end of this week, students will have missed a total of nine school days.

Officials have not made a decision about when missed school days will be made up. HCS canceled its Sept. 24 school board meeting.

The Waccamaw River in Conway and Little Pee Dee in Galivants Ferry are expected to reach major flood levels. The Waccamaw is expected to crest Tuesday or Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service in Wilmington.

Levels could exceed Hurricane Matthew by 2 or 3 feet in the Waccamaw River, with a record level of 17 feet, 9 inches, the NWS reports.

Hannah Strong: 843-444-1765, @HannahLStrong

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