So Long, Florence

3 mins read

Lowcountry spared as hurricane ravages N.C. coast

It was touch-and-go for a few days, but Beaufort fortunately was spared the effects of Hurricane Florence.

The unpredictable nature of the storm caused Gov. Henry McMaster to issue an evacuation order for Beaufort County on Monday, Sept. 10, which he rescinded less than 24 hours later. Many residents still cleared out, concerned that some forecast models predicted a southern swing as the system approached the coast. 

For those who stayed, it made for a quiet, if tense, few days. Many locals made their preparations then enjoyed time on the suddenly less-crowded beaches or took to Hunting Island State Park for unusually favorable surfing conditions.

Windows of the Thibault Gallery were boarded up in preparation for Hurricane Florence. Photo by Jayne Violette.

Schools and government offices were closed until Monday, Sept. 17, and many businesses boarded up, especially along the downtown waterfront, in expectation for the worst.

The worst never came to the Lowcountry, thankfully, but Florence battered the North Carolina coast and dumped massive amounts of rain in the northeastern part of South Carolina, causing extensive flooding.

“I am very proud of how our city and county organized and responded to the seemingly ever-changing unpredictable hurricane, tropical storm, tropical depression as she slowly and erratically made landfall in North Carolina and then the northeastern part of the state known as the Pee Dee,” Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling said in his email newsletter. “We are fortunate, but others are not so lucky. Our hearts and whatever help we can provide should be extended.”

While some were critical of Gov. McMaster’s early evacuation order, Keyserling lauded the governor for his handling of the situation, and he extended that praise to county officials, who have now had to oversee evacuation proceedings in three consecutive years.

“Based on three experiences working with Beaufort County, I believe the performance of the emergency management team has improved exponentially,” Keyserling said. “Through engaging with the public with regular news conferences and the use of technology, the citizens of Beaufort County were more informed than any time I can remember. I sat in the room over periods of time witnessing local officials and professionals at their best, making tough calls.”

Photo at top: Hurricanes always create spectacular beauty when they are far away. Here, Blanche Sullivan, left, of Beaufort, and Lisa Giffin of Summerville watch and photograph an incredible sunset Friday, Sept, 14, near the Broad River boat landing. About two dozen people came out to watch the colorful event. Photo by Bob Sofaly.

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