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Player: Don't get fooled by tropical storm

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Substantial rainfall expected later today

Mark Manicone and Gregory A. Summers

The Lancaster News

Slow-moving Florence is expected to weaken into a tropical depression later today as it trudges westward across the state, but torrential rainfall is still expected in Lancaster County.

“The main issue we may experience is the public being lulled into a false sense of security,” said Darren Player, director of Lancaster County Fire Rescue/Emergency Management.

The storm, he noted, that is now moving at 2-3 mph, will come creeping into our area in earnest later today and tonight and into Sunday.

Some parts of eastern South Carolina that are in the storm’s path have experienced flooding, wind gusts of more than 50 mph and the formation of spontaneous tornadoes.

Lancaster County, Player said, still has a 30-40 percent chance of seeing wind gusts from 39-74 mph today.

So far, the storm has been linked to six deaths; five in North Carolina and one here.  

The S.C. Highway Patrol reported that a 62-year-old woman was killed Friday night on S.C. 18 in Union County when she struck a tree that had fallen in the road.

Samantha Hayden of Santa Barbara Drive had a wind-snapped tree fall on her home Friday night, though damage was minimal. Another section of the tree fell on power lines behind her home Saturday, but thankfully, Hayden still had power.

“I was in bed watching TV when I heard it. I just jumped up and ran. I knew it was a tree, but didn’t know what direction it was coming from,” she said.

Almost 150,000 homes and businesses in South Carolina are without power. At 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Duke Energy reported 178 power outages in Lancaster County.

According to preliminary reports from the National Weather Service, more than 30 inches of rainfall have fallen in North Carolina since the massive 400-mile-wide storm made landfall just after 7 a.m. Friday.

For us, the worst is yet to come. It is estimated that Lancaster County will see 8-15 inches of rain through Monday.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster’s office ended the evacuation for Charleston, Dorchester, Berkeley, and Colleton counties at noon Saturday.

Evacuations for Georgetown and Horry counties are still on. Local officials requested the governor keep the evacuation on in those coastal areas while law enforcement and others assess the damages.

McMaster is set to hold a briefing with other state emergency response officials at 2:30 p.m. today.

Check back later for updates.