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Staggering amount of rainfall coming to Lancaster County

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By Kayla Vaughn

Lancaster County is expected to accumulate up to 13 inches of rain over the next three days, a sobering prospect for Darren Player, the county’s top emergency management official.
“This storm is historic for us if it actually turns out to be what they’re predicting,” said Player, director of Lancaster County Fire Rescue.
“We’ve not experienced this level of rainfall over the entire county. I suspect we’ll set new records as far as the 100-year flood zones go.”
Player, a 60-year-old Lancaster native, said the most flooding he can remember in the county was in 1969 when Hurricane Camille passed through the state and when Hurricane Hugo hit 29 years ago.
“Even then we didn’t get the level of rain that’s expected with this one,” he said.
As of 2:30 p.m. Friday there were already 1,600 power outages in Lancaster County.
Player said his workers at Fire Rescue are prepared to deploy to other areas in the state if needed, but they will make sure Lancaster County is taken care of first.
“Once we’re certain our own population is safe and the storm has settled down and things are in control, then we’ll begin to make decisions on who we will help,” he said.
The first to receive help from Lancaster will be our neighboring counties, then anywhere else first responders may be needed in the state.
He said Fire Rescue will always maintain a good presence of resources in the county even if some of its first responders are deployed elsewhere.
Player said first responders will be out around the county all weekend, but he has advised them to drive slower when responding to emergencies because of high wind speeds. Strong winds can tip over any high-profile vehicle, including fire trucks and ambulances, or cause the vehicle to swerve off the road at high speed and turn over.
City fire and police will be working in tandem with county emergency management to weather the storm.
Lancaster Fire Chief Justin McLellan said city firefighters have been working to ensure all equipment is fueled up and working properly before the storm.
He said extra firefighters might be called in to work if needed to man other vehicles or for water rescues.
Lancaster Police Chief Scott Grant said Friday there were no formal plans to block off any areas in the city that are likely to flood, but officers were prepared to barricade certain roads if they become too dangerous for travel.
City Administrator Flip Hutfles said the number of barricades the city can use during the storm is limited.
“We only have so many barricades. We can’t risk our people,” Hutfles said. “People have to use some common sense and not drive on flooded roadways.”
Some low-lying areas in the city that are likely to flood include North Market Street, Clinton Avenue, North Main Street and Plantation Road, Grant said.
Another pump was added to the wastewater treatment plant off Meeting Street to keep water flowing through it.
Hutfles said the city was operating Friday under its inclement-weather policy and let staffers go home around 1 p.m.
Doug Barfield, spokesman for the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office, said deputies will be posted in various parts of the county throughout the weekend.
With the courthouse closing at noon Friday, freeing up a number of deputies to go out on patrol if needed. Everyone at the sheriff’s office is on call, and patrols have been beefed up with staggered shifts over the weekend, Barfield said Friday.
The sheriff’s office has its 14-ton MaxxPro MRAP military-grade vehicle gassed up and ready to go if needed, Barfield said. The rescue vehicle can roll through 4 feet of water.
Generators at the sheriff’s office and the detention center should keep law enforcement moving in the county despite the storm.
Barfield said the county is prepared to feed the large staff of officers at the sheriff’s office over the weekend if the power is out everywhere else.
The Lancaster County Water and Sewer District will be providing free water at different locations to anyone living in the county who may need it.
A water spigot will be attached to a hydrant in the rear parking area of the main building at 1400 Pageland Highway and at the entrance to the Indian Land Waste Water Treatment Plant at 764 River Road.
Motels around the county have been filling up quickly over the past week.
Super 8 on the bypass was nearly full Friday afternoon, with just a few single rooms available. The Quality Inn on Commerce Boulevard was down to just two rooms available late Friday.
For more information on closings around the county and updates on the storm, Player advised everyone to download the S.C. Emergency Management app on an iPhone or Android mobile device.
Lancaster County Emergency Management has provided a YouTube video feed with information about the hurricane at www.youtube.com/user/learntv18.
In case of fire or medical emergencies, call 911. If a tree has fallen or a road is flooded, call (803) 283-4136. In case of a power outage, call Duke Energy at (800) 769-3766 or Lynches River at (866) 675-5732. For traffic-light outages, call SCDOT at (803) 283-3397.

Follow Kayla Vaughn on Twitter @kaybvaughn or contact her at (803) 416-8416.