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The flood: County and governor disagree over evacuation


Georgetown County officials say Gov. Nikki Haley “misspoke” on Wednesday when she recommended that Pawleys Island and Georgetown residents evacuate in advance of flooding rivers.

Haley said the state will go through "the second big wave" of the storm that dumped record amounts of rain on the state over three days. "In the next 12 hours Georgetown will start to flood. It will get worse, and it's going to last up to 12 days," Haley said at a midday news conference. "If you are in the area of Georgetown you're going to see people coming and knocking on your doors telling you to get out."

Some roads are already closed. "We are going to close [Highways] 701 and 17. All of those will be impassible from the flooding. And it will be up to 12 days that that water will sit. So it's not going to do what it did before where that water receded. This water is going to stay," Haley said.

"Specific areas to strongly consider evacuation would be Pawleys Island, Georgetown, Jamestown and the areas below Ghivens Ferry," on the Edisto River, Haley said.

Haley's statement prompted a flood of calls to Georgetown County and the town of the Pawleys Island. "We do not currently have any evacuation recommended for the Pawleys Island or City of Georgetown areas!" the county Emergency Management Division said in a statement. The county has been urging residents in the rural communities of Dunbar and Oatland on the Black River to evacuate because of flooding and road closures.

Sam Hodge, the county Emergency Management director, said in a video statement that the Black River, Mingo Creek and the Pee Dee River are the county's current concerns. He urged residents in those areas to pay close attention to the condition of the waterways. "There's no need to evacuate all of Georgetown County – a lot of people have been calling up here; we have a lot of requests about that information – or the town of Pawleys Island," Hodge said.

The county's rivers are expected to crest on Friday, according to the Emergency Management Division.

County Administrator Sel Hemingway said the governor's statement was misconstrued. "The intent of the message changed as it worked its way through the media," he said.

But Haley's statement was also picked up by U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, who was touring flooded areas in the Pee Dee. In a statement, issued as Georgetown County officials were preparing a press conference to tamp down concerns raised by the governor, Scott urged residents to evacuate the areas Haley listed as "high-risk," including Pawleys Island and Georgetown.

"The sun is out," Mayor Bill Otis said at the press conference in Georgetown. Pawleys Island in "not considering evacuation."

"Allow us to make statements that are accurate and factual," Hemingway said at the press conference. He urged residents to get their information from the county's website: gtcounty.org.

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