FAIRFIELD COUNTY — Schools in Fairfield County remained closed for the second day in a row, following a weekend of heavy rains that caused low-level flooding all over the county, cutting off access to many areas of the county.
School officials said they would be making a determination about Wednesday as the day progressed.
At 9 p.m. Monday, the S.C. Department of Transportation reported that only four roads in Fairfield County were still being impacted by the rain: River Road from Westshore Drive to Kingfisher Drive, S.C. 213 from the Broad River Bridge to Jenkinsville Road, Cow Horn Road from West Peach Road to U.S. 321 South, and Richtex Road from S.C. 215 to the end of state maintenance.
The SCDOT had reported that 11 roads were impacted Sunday night.
Sheriff Will Montgomery followed the lead of many other counties in the Midlands area on Sunday by imposing a dusk to dawn curfew, allowing only highway maintenance employees, utility workers and emergency services personnel to be on the roadways from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.
“I do not take this decision lightly,” Montgomery said in a release on Sunday. “Based on the deteriorating conditions of roadways and bridges, I feel that it is in the best interest of Fairfield County that we limit activity on our roadways throughout the night so that we can minimize any chances of injuries or deaths that commonly occur with these types of weather events. Our agency will work closely with state and local officials throughout the night and into tomorrow to assess and determine the safety of these roads and bridges. I want to thank the citizens of Fairfield County, in advance, for their cooperation in this matter.”
Montgomery announced Monday they there would be no additional curfew at this time but encouraged residents to travel only when necessary.
“While most of the heavy rainfall has passed, some precipitation is expected to continue throughout the day. Water levels in low-lying areas are still expected to be rising so there are still concerns about deteriorating roadway conditions,” he said. “Additionally, there are concerns about damages to roadway and bridge foundations that could still result in collapses. Everyone who decides to travel on the roadways is advised to use caution, especially after dark and to immediately report any unsafe conditions or hazards.”
The sheriff also urged residents to check on their neighbors, especially if there is flooding in the area and they have neighbors who are elderly or not well.
Fairfield County, like much of the Midlands area, was hammered by flooding caused by Hurricane Joaquin. Rain moved into the area on Friday and settled in the area. Events planned in the area — including Rock Around the Clock in downtown Winnsboro — were cancelled one right after the other once organizers realized the rain was not going to let up.
While no major damage was reported in Fairfield County, neighboring Newberry County had at least two bridges that collapsed due to the swelling creeks and tributaries. The Broad River at the Fairfield County-Newberry County line was swollen out of its banks on Sunday on all sides.
Gov. Nikki Haley held a press conference Monday from the state Emergency Operations Center in West Columbia. She was joined by Adj. Gen. Robert Livingston, South Carolina Emergency Management Division Director Kim Stenson, a representative from SCE&G and agency directors from the State Emergency Response Team.
Haley said South Carolina is not out of the woods yet. Floodwaters were receding Monday but Haley said additional evacuations are possible as flooding drains and move south through the state after a historic rain event.
Haley said she has expedited federal disaster assistance to South Carolina by making a verbal request to federal authorities, taking the unusual step Monday morning as part of a plan to stay ahead of the situation. More than 1,300 National Guard members have been activated and another 7,000 are on standby, she said.
On Monday morning, 15 counties were still activated at OpCon 1, said SCEMD spokesman Derrec Becker. At least 10 counties or municipalities have declared States of Emergency and many had imposed overnight curfews.
Patricia M. Edwards is the regional editor for Civitas Media’s properties in South Carolina, which includes The Herald Independent. She is also the General Manager for The Herald Independent.