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Flood report: What happens if U.S. 17 near Georgetown floods?

U.S. 17 North out of Georgetown could flood this week where it crosses Winyah Bay and farther north between the bridge and Pawleys Island as floodwaters move downstream toward the ocean.

With four rivers coming together just inland of Georgetown, the flooding from the Waccamaw, Great Pee Dee, Sampit and Black rivers will converge and are expected to cause severe flooding. That rising water is forecast to inundate U.S. 17 around the bridges headed north from Georgetown.

State Department of Transportation officials and the South Carolina National Guard plan to set up barriers along the lowest spots of U.S. 17, using sandbags and water-filled temporary dams, similar to what the SCDOT installed along U.S. 501 in Conway. But the flooding forecast for Georgetown is uncertain, according to the National Weather Service.

If the water comes up over the temporary dams, the National Guard has a backup plan. National Guard members Sunday assembled a floating bridge near Winyah Bay that can be pulled by boats, creating a ferry for emergency vehicles and trucks carrying critical supplies.

The National Guard trucked in eight of the bridge segments that soldiers dump from trucks and they expand “like a transformer,” Lt. Col. Candis Olmstead, with the Alaska National Guard, said, at the boat landing in Georgetown. If they had enough segments, they could build an entire bridge across Winyah Bay, she said.

The temporary barge is what Olmstead called the “worst-case scenario” for making sure Georgetown doesn’t get cut off from the rest of the Grand Strand to the north.

Georgetown County spokeswoman Jackie Broach-Akers said she expects work to begin on the U.S. 17 dams Sunday evening. The road north of Georgetown was down to one lane each way Sunday, and National Guard members were preparing to put up the temporary dams.

Charles Duncan: 843-616-0301; @duncanreporting

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