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How past hurricanes can teach us about preparing for the future

With multiple flooding events, South Carolina Emergency Management says they are learning how to better prepare.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Hurricanes are known for their fierce winds and storm surge, but more and more storms are dropping feet of rain after they make landfall. This means that inland flooding will become more of a concern for those off of the coast when it comes to tropical weather

In the past 10 years we have seen multiple tropical flooding events in South Carolina. The 2015 flood dropped 20 to 30 inches of rain across the state and caused extensive flooding here in the Midlands. In 2016, Hurricane Matthew went up the east coast dumping over a foot of rain in portions of the state. Hurricane Florence in 2018 caused widespread flooding across the Carolinas as feet of rain fell in the region.

Credit: Joe Raedle
LINDEN, NC - SEPTEMBER 18: A home is seen inundated with water from cresting rivers from the rains caused by Hurricane Florence as it passed through the area on September 18, 2018 in Linden, North Carolina. The area was inundated with rain that caused concern for large-scale flooding in the North Carolina and South Carolina area. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Kim Stenson the director of the South Carolina Emergency Management Division says that these experiences have allowed them to better prepare for when the next time flood waters rise.

“At one time we really do a good job of actually staging equipment at all or personnel in advance of when we thought something would happen. We now have got to the point where we stage them before we got requests, and then they really fine-tuned it right now so that basically we will push those elements as far as we can without putting them in danger.

With a better plan for responding to situations, SCEMD says they will also take lessons learned from other states like what is currently ongoing in Florida after Hurricane Ian ravaged the coast and dropped feet of rain inland.
“We review those after action reports from those other states… that were impacted and we talk about what went well and what didn’t go so well. That is certainly a part of that process.”

Learning from these other events is important. Climate change is changing how tropical systems impact communities. Storms over the past decade have dumped feet of rain both on coastal and inland areas causing widescale and many times deadly flooding.

Credit: WLTX

Stenson says that knowing if your home is in a flood plain and making sure you have flood insurance are very important. He adds that staying informed leading up to periods of inclement weather is the best way to make sure you can be prepared.

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