Residents forced to evacuate as Waccamaw River floods

Lumberton, NC - FEMA Photo
Lumberton, NC - FEMA Photo

BUCKSPORT, SC (WBTW) – While Matthew is long gone, his effects are still being felt nearly a week later. People living in Bucksport along the Waccamaw River were surprised Thursday afternoon when they got a Code Red alert telling them to head for higher ground.

“They’re telling us to get out so we’ll go ahead and get out,” explained Vantorus Graham, who has lived along the Waccamaw for decades.

He was on the road for work Thursday afternoon when his phone went off, alerting him that Bucksport was flooding and it was time to go.

“I was kinda surprised about it because you know usually this area doesn’t flood,” said Graham.

RELATED: PHOTOS: Hurricane Matthew Damage

Graham and his family were busy packing their car though Thursday, headed for higher ground.

“We got that phone call that said hey, you gotta get out,” Graham recalled.

Bucksport sits right between the Waccamaw and Great Pee Dee rivers. According to Storm Tracker 13 Chief Meteorologist Frank Johnson, the Waccamaw River is still in major flood stage, and could crest as high as 16.9 feet–about a half foot higher than last year’s historic flood.

Even so, Graham said he’s not afraid of the rising waters threatening his home.

“If they’d have given me the option to stay, I’d have stayed,” Graham said. “I know some people might say that’s crazy but I would have stayed. I don’t think it’s gonna be that bad.”

D.J. Washington said he’s not worried either.

“I think it ain’t even gonna get high, people are just exaggerating.”

Washington was surprised when the police told them the evacuation from Bucksport Road wasn’t voluntary.

“Me and my boys were chilling and then the police came and told us we had to leave,” Washington remembered. “I said ‘no I’m not going to leave,’ but then the police came back and said it was getting bad.”

Washington and many neighbors went to the James R. Frazier Recreation Center early Thursday afternoon and were bused to various churches and shelters around the county while they pray the river goes back inside its banks soon.

Graham though knows he has a place to stay tonight.

“She’s got a business where she cleans houses and condos and one of the ladies said hey just stay at the condo don’t worry about it,” Graham said, smiling.

Horry County Sheriff’s deputies, police, and fire as well as the National Guard were in Bucksport Thursday assisting with the evacuation.

No word on when people will be able to return to their homes.

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