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Conway city leaders hire attorney to get answers from SCDOT over barriers

Crews shipped bags to form barriers near the 378 Interchange and 501 Bypass. Conway city leaders might file an injunction against the barriers. Sunday, they said the South Carolina Department of Transportation hadn't said how it might impact city flooding. (Taggart Houck/WPDE)

The City of Conway is looking for answers from the South Carolina Department of Transportation after the department started working on flood barriers along US 378 and the 501 Bypass in Conway.

Sunday they voted to hire an attorney, possibly seeking an injunction against the Department of Transportation to stop the barriers from going up.

The Department of Transportation says floodwaters from Tropical Storm Florence might "overtop" bridges without them.

"If waters do rise up to the levels of 501 and they were barricaded by a buffer of some sort, that would back up or dam up water, pushing more water into the areas of Conway that don't normally flood," said Conway Councilman William Goldfinch.

City Administrator Adam Emrick said he spoke with DOT leaders Sunday morning, and they couldn't answer his concerns that the barriers wouldn't worsen city flooding.

"The very simple question is, 'Have they ran models? Have they ran any scientific data that show that's not going to happen?' And we cannot get an answer that says they've done that," he said. "In fact, we've been told they haven't."

Emrick said county projections indicate the Waccamaw River could rise four feet higher than it did after Hurricane Matthew. He doesn't want to take any chances.

"If any water that is displaced in their homes or businesses or critical infrastructure that could've been avoided if not for those barriers, that's an unacceptable solution," he said.

Our team reached out to the South Carolina Department of Transportation, but have not heard back as of Sunday night.

Some Conway residents, like Hoyt Wood, who owns two properties near the Waccamaw River in Conway are fearing the worst. He blames Governor McMaster.

"They don't care about the citizens of Conway, okay? They put Conway citizens in danger so that they can get people in Myrtle Beach back to their homes so that the Governor can win an election," said Wood.

Emrick said he and other city leaders aren't opposed to the barriers, they're simply seeking reassurance it won't add to flood risks for residents.

"We need to be able to tell our residents that what is being put in place to protect the road to the beach isn't going to negatively affect the City of Conway and our residents."

McMaster held a press conference Sunday afternoon. His team said plans are still in place to continue the barriers.

The South Carolina Department of Transportation said the barriers could be finished as soon as Monday night.



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