Hurricane Floyd: 10 year anniversary
Wed, 16 Sep 2009 21:23:04 GMT —
Hurricane Floyd was a category two hurricane with 105 mph winds when it made landfall in Cape Fear, North Carolina.
For the Grand Strand, the winds peaked between 80 and 85 mph, but it's not the wind damage or storm surge that this storm is most known for. Floyd is remembered for the major flooding it caused in the Carolinas and for prompting the largest peacetime evacuation in American history.
Horry County Emergency Preparedness Director Randy Webster remembers it well.
"They were on the road for hours, sometimes 18 to 20 hours in some cases especially in the Charleston area trying to go I -26 to Columbia. You could probably literally walk faster than they were driving," said Webster.
But while everyone was trying to move to safety inland, it was the inland areas that ended up being the most dangerous. The storm dropped between twelve and twenty inches of rain causing massive flooding and loss of life.
Fifty of the fifty six people who died in Hurricane Floyd drowned more than one hundred miles from the immediate coast.
Floyd was a reminder that over the last century, excluding Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the number one killer in a tropical system is freshwater flooding. Statistics show that six of the ten deaths in a hurricane are attributed to this.
There were no deaths reported in South Carolina, but the rivers remained swollen for nearly two months.
"No one of us around here had experienced that before, so it was kind of a big jolt to the system because the road network was inundated. We lost major routes, Highway 9 in the north end of the county all the way to the south end of the county," said Webster.
We also had record rainfall.
"I know we were here for about three months dealing with the aftermath of the flood. It stayed above flood stage for a long time, and then finally when it started to recede there was a lot of work that had to be done after that to get people back into there homes and to get the situation back under control," added Webster
Since Hurricane Floyd, evacuation routes have been improved and emergency management is now better prepared to handle the major flooding that the next tropical system may bring.