Nichols, S.C. (June 14, 2019) — The population of Nichols, S.C., is expected to at least double Saturday as volunteers from across the state continue to sign up to help clean ditches and improve the town’s drainage system after two hurricanes in three years caused catastrophic flooding. The town of roughly 400 people is located in Marion County, about 50 miles northwest of Myrtle Beach.
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster and the South Carolina Floodwater Commission (SCFC) are hosting Nichols Cleanup Day, which also will serve as the group’s quarterly meeting. The SCFC, founded by McMaster in October, provides a cohesive platform for the state to collaboratively address and alleviate the flooding that ravages communities throughout the state.
Saturday’s event supports the SCFC’s Infrastructure and Shoreline Armoring Task Force, which is headed by South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) Secretary Christy Hall and supported by SCDOT staff. The task force highlights the need to maintain and improve drainage systems to reduce flooding issues, such as those that took place in Nichols after Hurricane Matthew and Hurricane Florence. Floods from Hurricane Matthew in October 2016 submerged the town under 4-6 feet of water and displaced 95% of its residents. In September 2018, while the town was still struggling to rebuild, Hurricane Florence hit and sent Nichols’ recovery efforts back to square one.
“We’re honored and overwhelmed by the support from the governor, the Commission and all of the anticipated volunteers,” Nichols Town Administrator Sandee Rogers said. “The floods that wreaked havoc in Nichols have repeatedly hit small towns throughout our beautiful state. The work that Gov. McMaster and this group are doing can only benefit our residents and illustrate how efforts like these can help mitigate future destruction and protect millions.”
To further help with recovery efforts, in 2019, Nichols secured Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The town contracted with Woolpert in March to evaluate flooding problems and mitigation opportunities by collecting data, providing modeling and analysis, and incorporating town input. The firm has decades of engineering, surveying, stormwater and mapping experience, and provided perishable aerial imagery to support its Columbia clients immediately following the state’s “1,000-year” flood event in 2015.
“With the crushing events of the last few years, it was hard for our small town to sustain hope at times,” Rogers said. “But thanks to the efforts of so many, we are beginning to see daylight.”
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