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Conway Neighborhood Visited by President Advised to Evacuate by Weekend

Neighborhood near Crabtree Swamp Evacuated by National Guard
Victoria Hansen/SC Public Radio
Neighborhood near Crabtree Swamp Evacuated by National Guard
Former Horry County councilwoman Liz Gilland stops to talk to Doug and Sissy Owen about flooding on their property
Credit Victoria Hansen
Former Horry County councilwoman Liz Gilland stops to talk to Doug and Sissy Owen about flooding on their property

The day before President Trump visited Conway, Doug and Sissy Owen got a knock on their door.  It was the National Guard advising them to seek higher ground in 48 hours, well before the weekend when the Waccamaw River is  expected to crest.

“Thank God that we had notice and time to move everything out,” said Doug Owen.  “I can’t imagine

how these other people are who didn’t have any time.”

In the back of his Sherwood neighborhood, just east of town, several people in community near Crabtree Swamp were pulled to safety Monday by members of the National Guard.  Flash flood waters had washed into their homes.   The Owens watched from their street and hoped they would not have to leave, even though their entire yard was flooded.  The water had receded when they got Tuesday’s warning.   It didn’t make sense.  The problem is the river that runs through town.

“The flood water that is coming from the storm in North Carolina will likely go into their house about a foot at least,” said Liz Gilland.  She’s a former Horry County councilwoman and a native of Conway.  She met the Owens earlier in the week, driving by on her golf cart.

“The riverfront that runs downtown may overflow into some of the downtown section,” she said.  “It’s hard to imagine because it has not done that it my life time."

Gilland says the river is expected to crest sometime between Saturday and Monday and could be even worse than the flooding following Hurricane Matthew in 2016, perhaps three to five feet higher.  She says she’s never seen that kind of flooding in Conway.  She’s also never seen a president come to town.

“I just missed him,” she said.  “I was just pulling up in my golf cart when he left.”  She describes the visit as quite a surprise to the 50 or so people who had a chance to see President Donald Trump.  His stop Wednesday was part of a tour of both North and South Carolina.  Gilland says his visit did lift spirits.  She hopes it leads to federal help.

“All we can do is hope,” she said.  “He does seem to have a heart for people in this area.”

Up the street, the Owens heard about it, but missed the president’s visit.  They had hired a moving a company and were packing up.  They grabbed their camper from the repair shop and found a place to stay in Myrtle Beach.  They just moved to Conway from Clifton, New Jersey six months ago.  They say they were told the property was not in a flood zone.  They don’t have insurance.

“It’s one day at a time,” said Doug Owen.  “We’re just trying to keep our mind off of it.  It’s hard though.”

Victoria Hansen is our Lowcountry connection covering the Charleston community, a city she knows well. She grew up in newspaper newsrooms and has worked as a broadcast journalist for more than 20 years. Her first reporting job brought her to Charleston where she covered local and national stories like the Susan Smith murder trial and the arrival of the Citadel’s first female cadet.