Hurricane Florence 2018

Thursday, October 11th, 2018 - 2:00 p.m.

Hurricane Over Southern United States
In response to Hurricane Florence, DHEC staff actively assessed and responded to ongoing public health and environmental needs across the state. For important information on how to respond to severe weather events, please visit our hurricane preparedness page.

Final Updates:

As part of our preparedness and response efforts with Hurricane Florence, DHEC took the following actions:

  •  More than 700 DHEC staff have been dispatched as part of our emergency response efforts.
  • Our call centers have fielded more than 8,400 calls assisting the public with questions related to special medical needs, health department services and other general concerns.

DHEC Urges South Carolinians to Avoid Contact with Flood Waters:

DHEC always recommends that you minimize contact with flood waters, because there are many health and safety concerns, including:

Health Concerns:

  • Infectious Diseases (e.g., tetanus, norovirus, hepatitis and TB)
  • Diarrheal Diseases
  • Wound Infections
  • Chemical Hazards (e.g., gasoline, diesel and oil from submerged vehicles)

Safety Concerns:

  • Drowning
  • Animal & Insect Bites
    • Fire ants float on flood waters and re-establish where they land
    • Snakes can be anywhere water may have carried them
    • Other wildlife (foxes, coyotes, beavers, etc.) can be relocated by flood waters
  • Electrical Hazards – Water and electricity can be a dangerous combination. When returning to flooded homes, it is important to turn the power off at the breaker box so that power isn’t restored while water is still present.
  • Sharp objects and uneven walking surfaces can be hidden by murky flood waters. Exercise care even in areas that you knew well prior to the flood.

For additional information, visit the CDC’s Flood and Standing Waters website.

Health Care Facilities:

The Department worked with 131 regulated health care facilities in the medical evacuation zones, including 17 hospitals to evacuate more than 6,000 patients and caregivers and safely transport them to other facilities across the state.

Patients and residents of those facilities are returning where possible.

Special Medical Needs Shelters:

DHEC opened and staffed a total of 14 Special Medical Need Shelters.  These shelters are specifically designed to provide shelter for people whose medical conditions exceed the capabilities of the general population shelters but are not severe enough to require a hospital stay. These are individuals who live at home and have a health condition that requires specialized, electric-powered equipment or need medication that requires refrigeration. Individuals in these shelters must bring an adult caregiver with them to care for them. We do not provide health care services in these shelters.

Immunization Clinics

DHEC used its WIC Mobile Clinic to provide some key services to residents in areas recovering from severe flooding.  DHEC’s mobile care van traveled to Cheraw and Marion to offer WIC services to eligible women and children along with Tdap and Flu shots for adults.

During these clinics, DHEC provided vaccines to more than 260 individuals impacted by the storm.

Environmental Assessments and Monitoring

DHEC conducted baseline water sampling for general chemistry (e.g., pH, oil, grease) and metals analyses (e.g., arsenic, lead, mercury, selenium) from the Waccamaw River and from the two coal ash ponds at the Santee Cooper Grainger Station prior to the arrival of the hurricane. The Department, along with Georgetown County Water and Sewer District and Grand Strand Water and Sewer Authority, continue to monitor the conditions closely. DHEC continues to be in contact with Santee Cooper regarding conditions at the Grainger Station.

DHEC remains in close contact with Grand Strand Water and Sewer Authority and other Public Water and Wastewater Systems across the affected area regarding the status of their systems and support to their customers.

Private Wells:

DHEC is waiving bacteriological testing fees for private wells impacted by the flood. Residents with questions about private wells should call 1-888-761-5989. We will provide information on boiling your water, disinfecting your well, and testing your well. *NOTE: If the well was not flooded, the water quality is the same as before the flood.


DHEC assessed 262 dams prior to the storm. The Department utilized the CodeRED system multiple times to notify more than 2,000 dam owners via voice call, text message and email. Dam owners were urged to evaluate their water levels and coordinate lowering levels with other owners downstream to avoid flooding.

DHEC and the US Army Corps of Engineers have conducted 264 post-storm assessments of regulated dams. Over the course of the heavy rain, there were several dams in the Pee Dee region that overtopped. DHEC confirmed 11 regulated dams had breached as a result of the storm:

  • Lakewind (significant-hazard) – Chesterfield County
  • Crawford Pond (low-hazard) – Chesterfield County
  • Jordan Pond (significant-hazard) – Darlington County
  • Lake Darpo (low-hazard) – Darlington County
  • Springwood Lake (low-hazard) – Darlington County
  • McColl Pond (low-hazard) – Dillon County
  • Baxley 501 Pond (significant-hazard) – Marion County
  • McMeeken (low-hazard) – Marlboro County
  • McLaurins Mill Pond (significant-hazard) – Marlboro County
  • David’s Millpond (significant-hazard) – Marlboro County
  • Covington Millpond (low-hazard) – Marlboro County

Full inspections will be conducted on the breached dams once conditions allow it.

NOTE: Understanding Dam Classifications

Unless exempted by law, dams regulated by DHEC are classified based on size and hazards, and must meet one of the following criteria:

  • 25 feet in height
  • impounds (holds back) 50 acre-feet or more of water
  • classified as a high-hazard dam, regardless of size

Hazard classification applies to potential loss of human life or property damage in the event of failure or improper operation of the dam or connected works.

  • High-hazard (C1) - Failure will likely cause loss of life or serious damage to infrastructure.
  • Significant-hazard (C2) - Failure will not likely cause loss of life but may damage infrastructure.
  • Low-hazard (C3) - Failure may cause limited property damage.

DHEC Office Closures:

DHEC follows the closings and delays of county offices. For example, if Beaufort County offices are closed, our health clinics and offices in the county will be closed as well. The latest information on delays and closures can be found at or on local media.

Previous Updates:

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Florence 2018