PICKENS COUNTY — As the remnants of what was Hurricane Joaquin slammed the coastal and midland areas of South Carolina, Pickens County escaped unscathed for the most part.
Gov. Nikki Haley declared a state of emergency prior to the category 3 storm’s arrival, enabling federal, state and county emergency agencies and officials to better coordinate joint resources and respond to requests for assistance as needed.
“We haven’t seen this level of rain in the low country for a thousand years,” said Haley during a press conference on Sunday. “That’s how big this is.”
Pickens County Emergency Management Director Denise Kwiatek said it was a combination of awareness and luck that the Upstate fared so well.
“We were very blessed,” said Kwiatek. “There was hardly any flooding and no injuries. I think we had one road that was damaged and it’s already been fixed.”
Kwiatek said that emergency rescue squads were checking their equipment and supplies and manning their stations as the storm approached, but luckily weren’t needed.
“We had people out checking the areas that we knew were prone to flooding just in case. But again, we were lucky. We had no where near the problems that some of the other counties are having to deal with.”
According to Kwiatek, several local fire departments throughout the county headed out to more severely impacted areas in the state to help.
“I know some of the (area) fire departments headed down to Columbia to help,” said Kwiatek. “Everybody just kinda bands together when something like this happens.”
Several high school football games rescheduled their kickoff times to accommodate the storm and residents were encouraged to stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary.
The last time a hurricane even came within 150 miles of Pickens County was Hurricane Cindy back in 2005. Cindy was preceded by Hurricanes Jeanne, Ivan and Francis which all occurred in 2004.
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.