Edisto River swells to 13 feet, floods surrounding area

Published: Jul. 5, 2013 at 7:59 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 8, 2013 at 11:18 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - People living along the Edisto River went underwater Monday. The river swelled to 13 feet because of constant rain over the last month. Now that the river is three feet above flood stage, people are heading for higher ground and navigating the streets with paddle boats.

"It's just unreal," said Woody Hill. "It's very unsafe."

Along with the rest of the people who live on the banks of the Edisto River, Hill has been watching the water rise every day until it crested at 13 feet.

"This time of the year it's very unusual and it's been quite sometime since I've seen it at this height," said Hill. "It's just been a real, real big mess."

On the Fourth of July the Edisto River broke it's flood stage at 10 feet. Once it reached 13 feet, most of the low lying roads in the area went completely underwater.

"We've got about a foot and a half, maybe a little more, before it will be touching the floorboards of the house," said John Tisdale.

Tisdale moved into the Givhans area a few years ago and is experiencing his first flood.

"That's what you got to expect living on the river," he said.

Tisdale lives down the road from Cathy Innerline who says her house and her neighbors homes have been spared by a new drain put in by the Army Corps of Engineers last year.

"The river's out of control," said Innerline. "That current is so strong. It's way strong."

Robin Baetz, who works a stones throw from the river as a cashier at Randals Too Convenience Store, says it's been awhile since the water has climbed this high.

"It's been about five to seven years since we've really had a good flood," said Baetz. "Obviously we've forgotten what it's like... I don't think a lot of people were prepared for it this time."

Baetz says she's seen people's belongings floating down the river, washed away from their yards and garages.

The United States Geological Survey Water Watch recorded the Edisto River's highest water level at 17 and a half feet in 1925.

Monday's reading fell just under 13.1 feet. That's expected to be the peak of the water level before the water starts to recede over the coming weeks.

The Dorchester County Sheriff's Office says constant rainfall has pushed the Edisto River above the flood stage. Agencies have already performed rescue operations for both swimmers and boaters in the river.

The sheriff's office warns that subjecting someone to a known hazard may result in criminal charges in the event of death or injury.

Deputies charge anyone trying to maneuver the water to use extreme caution and understand currents and undertows could make things very dangerous.

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