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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

After Florence, the flood: Brunswick Sheriff’s deputies race to warn residents ahead of ‘biblical’ flooding

Floodwater is making its way through Brunswick County as people are still being asked to evacuate, one week after Hurricane Florence's landfall in North Carolina. Waters have crested at levels one Brunswick County Sheriff's deputy called "biblical."

BRUNSWICK COUNTY — Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office is deploying its entire fleet in the Waccamaw River floodplain, where roads look like rivers and homes have been abandoned.

For homes still occupied, officers are knocking on doors, warning residents who choose to stay put about what’s upstream — a week’s worth of rainfall from Hurricane Florence, draining into the Waccamaw watershed. It’s more than the river’s banks can hold, and experts expect record flooding in an area that’s already underwater.

RELATED: Officials urge evacuation in Waccamaw River floodplain, experts try to predict when flooding will peak

The peak of flooding is expected late Friday into Saturday, but the area is already hard hit; worse even than the aftermath of Hurricane Floyd, according to some Brunswick County Sheriff’s deputies.

“I was working for the Sheriff’s Office back in Floyd and it wasn’t this bad,” Lieutenant Israel West said during a drive-through over Kingtown Road, a route that’s now underwater. “I mean, this is biblical.”

On Thursday, officers made their way through an area that’s already flooded in Brunswick County in a Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle, MRAP for short.

Officers have made 651 rescues since Hurricane Florence first hit last week, according to Brunswick County Sheriff Department spokesperson, Emily Flax. Since Wednesday, Sherrif’s Officers have approached hundreds of homes in an area currently under voluntary evacuation.

At approximately 144-square miles, the Waccamaw River floodplain is home to up to 8,000 people, according to the county’s emergency services director, Brian Watts. Brunswick Couty officials are projecting this region will see flooding into homes on Friday and Saturday, before the floodwater makes its way to Conway, South Carolina.

So far, no one in the county has directly died as a result of the storm. “I’ve got a great team in place and they never miss a beat,” Sheriff John Ingram said.

On the day the storm hit, Sheriff Ingram had an emergency appendectomy, Flax said.

“He had an organ removed from his body and was back at work three hours later,” Flax said.

Ingram grew up on Myrtle Head Road, where officers have been making rescues this week. On Thursday had been out until 2 a.m. in the area removing people from their flooded homes. His staff of about 325 to 350 has been rotating in and out, since Florence arrived.

“I don’t ask them to do anything I wouldn’t do,” Ingram said. “I’ve never experienced anything like this in our county.”

Send tips and comments to Johanna Ferebee at

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