Hurricane Irma: Flooding likely early next week


Many in the Lowcountry are breathing a sigh of relief as forecast tracks currently show Hurricane Irma taking a shift west, removing Charleston from the cone. Unfortunately, there's still plenty of time for the track to again change.

Forecasters are now able get a better sense of what impacts we will see in the area at a minimum and ABC News 4 Chief Meteorologist Dave Williams said "torrential rain with flooding is likely" early next week in the Charleston area. UPDATED FORECAST Ten to 15 inches of rain is possible at a minimum. Rain is expected to start Sunday evening.

As of now, Hurricane Irma is a strong category 4 storm with 155 mph winds. It's expected to make landfall somewhere along the coast of Florida this weekend as a major hurricane.

The National Hurricane Center is projecting storm surge on top of normal tides of 5 to 10 feet all the way from Jupiter Inlet, which is north of Palm Beach on Florida's east coast, around to Bonita Beach, which is on Florida's west coast south of Fort Myers. The Florida Keys will likely be swamped. From Bonita Beach north to Venice, storm surge is expected to be 3 to 5 feet. And from Jupiter Inlet north to Sebastian Inlet, which is just south of Cape Canaveral, it is expected to be 3 to 6 feet.

Forecasters say this life-threatening surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves.

There is currently a high risk for rip currents on Charleston area beaches as well as a small craft advisory for South Carolina coastal waters.

FLOOD TIPS (from the South Carolina Emergency Management Division)

Before a Flood

Avoid building in a floodprone area unless you elevate and reinforce your home.

Elevate the furnace, water heater and electric panel if susceptible to flooding.

Install check valves in sewer traps to prevent floodwater from backing up into the drains of your home.

Contact community officials to find out if they are planning to construct barriers (levees, berms or floodwalls) to stop floodwater from entering the homes in your area.

Seal the walls in your basement with waterproofing compounds to avoid seepage.

Review your insurance policy. Flood coverage is not part of most homeowner, mobile home or renter’s insurance policies. There is a 30-day waiting period for coverage to take effect.

During a Flood

Be aware of potential flash flooding. If there is any possibility of a flash flood, move to higher ground. Do not wait to be told to move.

If time allows, prepare your home for a flood by moving essential items to an upper floor, bring in outdoor furniture, disconnect electrical appliances and be prepared to turn off the gas, electricity and water.

Do not walk through moving water. Six inches of moving water can make you fall. If you have to walk in water, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.

Do not drive into flooded areas. If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground if you can do so safely. You and the vehicle could be quickly swept away.

After a Flood

After a flood, listen for news reports to learn whether the community’s water supply is safe to drink.

Avoid floodwaters; water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline or raw sewage. Water may also be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.

Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded. Even if the roadway of a bridge or elevated highway looks normal, the support structures below may be damaged.

Stay clear of downed power lines and report them to your power company.

Use extreme caution when entering buildings; there may be hidden damage, particularly to foundations. Stay out of any building that is surrounded by floodwaters.

Clean and disinfect everything that got wet. Mud left from floodwater can contain sewage and other harmful chemicals.

** The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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