SCDOT prepares for possible Hurricane Ian impact

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Updated: Sep. 28, 2022 at 4:58 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - As Hurricane Ian makes its way to the Midlands, the South Carolina Department of Transportation is gearing up.

SCDOT is tasked with working to maintain the safety of the state’s roads and bridges.

“We just hope for the best that we aren’t hit too hard, but if we are, we go to work and take care of it until it’s complete,” Pete Poore, SCDOT Communications Director, said.

SCDOT officials have already sent 20 additional crews to the coastal counties, which are expected to be the hardest hit.

Officials have been planning for this storm since the beginning of the week, in consultation with state, federal, and local partners in emergency response and public safety.

Among the steps that SCDOT takes before severe weather arrives is going to flood-prone areas and making sure the drainage ditches are cleaned out so that they’ll capture as much rain as possible when the storm picks up.

The majority of the work for SCDOT, though, is after the storm passes. Crews will be stationed around the state, clearing any possible trees or other debris from the roads.

“We’re the first responders more or less so to speak after the storm because if the power is knocked out to certain areas and the power companies can’t get in because the roads are blocked by trees or other debris, we need to get those roads cleared so that they can get in there and get to work,” Poore said.

SCDOT is also monitoring traffic flow from those evacuating Florida and Georgia to determine any impacts on the state’s transportation network.

The agency also has damage assessment teams based in Columbia that are prepared to inspect bridges and decide whether any need to be closed for a period of time after the storm.

With periods of sustained tropical force winds and heavy rain expected throughout the state Friday, road conditions could be dangerous, officials say.

“The is the same as when we are experiencing an ice and snowstorm: don’t drive if you don’t have to, but if you do, be extra careful,” Poore said. “If you come upon a barricade that has closed a spot in the road and it says ‘road closed,’ believe it. Don’t try to drive around it. Pay attention to those warnings because it doesn’t take much water to get you caught and downed in it.”

SCDOT officials say that they will have 24-hour operations beginning Friday, lasting throughout the storm and its aftermath.

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