Two South Carolina truckers regroup after historic flooding

flood update

For up-to-date info on road closures throughout South Carolina, with flood warnings on through the weekend and numerous bridge washouts statewide, follow this link to S.C. DOT’s closure/highway information website.

Yesterday afternoon I checked in with both Dave Palmer of Greer, S.C., in the northern part of the state, as well as Jimmy Ardis, located near Sumter, S.C., ground zero for the ongoing water problems in the Low Country east of Columbia.

The latest update to SCDOT’s report on closed roads shows I-95 remains closed between Exit 119, site of the honorary Jimmy Ardis travel center I wrote about when Ardis won one of TA’s Citizen Driver awards some time back, up to 132, and otherwise DOT officials had opened large parts of I-95 to local traffic. Through traffic, however, may be closed off for some time — in SC DOT’s latest report, evaluation of bridges over the Black and Pocotaglio Rivers was noted as “completed.” They “cannot be re-opened at this time. Daily evaluations will be conducted to re-open additional portions of I-95 when possible,” the state notes.

“They tell me the water covered up over two miles on either side” of the Pocotaglio bridge, Ardis says.

In its frequently updated list of closures by county, it notes Oct. 18 as a possible reopening date.

“We’ve never seen anything like this.” –Jimmy Ardis on historic flooding in South Carolina. S.C. Governor Nikki Haley yesterday urged residents in low-lying places like Georgetown, S.C., not to delay if evacuation orders come. Ardis noted his area remained under flood warning through Saturday night.

Ardis returned home from a run out to Texas as the rain continued to fall on his home in Pinewood, S.C., on Monday this week. He’d loaded out of the Lone Star State for a haul to Hickory, N.C., prior, then made his way home on I-77 through Charlotte, N.C., and past the town of my own rearing, Rock Hill, S.C., wondering what all the fuss was about Monday afternoon. The sun was shining. Down off the I-77 bridge across the Catawba River near exit 82 in South Carolina Ardis could “see the rocks above the surface of the water,” nothing unusual about that. As he got closer to the mid-State, though, the extent of the tragedy became well evident, and the rain was still falling.

“There was so much mass confusion about what roads to take,” too, he says. “I was getting so many conflicting reports about how to come home, I told [Ardis’ wife] Debbie to get in the pickup and come the way I thought I could come.” She did, and “I never got a wet tire all the way” from the interstate other than the moisture from the falling rain.

Up north in Greer, local-regional dump trailer owner-operator Dave Palmer was set Monday morning to haul out of a regular shipper in Columbia — B&T Sand, recently bought by another company, however, was shut down for half a day and, all told, the interstate closures, particularly I-26 at the Broad River, had “us behind a couple days,” he said yesterday. As we spoke, he noted he’d talked to another shipper, the Clark Enoree Sand provider in Whitmire, S.C., who was still shut down as of yesterday morning by the swollen Enoree River.

Owner-operator Dave Palmer

Owner-operator Dave Palmer

The roads situation in the state remains rough, particularly on back roads with washed-out or unstable bridges — as of this morning, SCDOT reported 259 roads and 125 bridges sill closed.

Palmer, meanwhile, mentioned talking with operators from the local Trexler Trucking dump fleet at his shipper who noted having to spend an inordinate amount of time getting turned around after coming upon road-closed signs set just ahead of one washed-out bridge or other along a variety of local roads.

If you’re running the interstates, keep the ongoing closure on I-95 in mind, but otherwise you ought to be in the clear from hear on out until further notice. If you have an off-highway, out-of-the-way delivery, check SCDOT’s storm info notice ahead of time, for sure. You don’t want end up like this hauler.

Click through this image by photographer Rick Carpenter of the Sumter Item for the story of trucker Marin Anguelou, who got stuck at this bridge break on U.S. 15 near Sumter, S.C., after it fell out from under the rear of the truck ahead of him.

Click through this image by photographer Rick Carpenter of the Sumter Item for the story of trucker Marin Anguelou, who got stuck at this bridge break on U.S. 15 near Sumter, S.C., after it fell out from under the rear of the truck ahead of him.

Ardis made note of the Volvo pictured here, whose driver, Marin Anguelou, was hauling a load of pillows over this U.S. 15 bridge crossing at Whites Mill Pond in Sumter, S.C., when “the bridge went out from under” the truck ahead of him him when he got there,” says Ardis, tearing the front end out from under the unit.

Read more of Anguelou’s story at this link to a story in the Sumter Item.

The South Carolina Trucking Association responded to a reported backlog of requested permits for oversize and overweight haulers Wednesday, too, with this item urging patience and also that any local haulers with annual permits make absolutely certain they “verify the availability of their planned routes on SC/US highways and Interstates in advance at the Storm Resources website.

Nonetheless, “the office of OSOW Permits is currently open and processing any/all requests that have been placed over the past several days as quickly as possible,” the trucking association said. Catch more recent news via the stories published this week, all listed below the following images sent in by Jimmy and Debbie Ardis.

“It’s drying out finally” in the area around Jimmy Ardis’ Pinewood home, he says. Pictured here during a break in work this week cleaning up after he made his way home as the storm came through, Ardis notes “we had a couple trees we had to cut down that blew over. I had to go out and clean some of the ditches out – the stuff from the storm had filled” culverts.

Shown here is Swan Lake in Sumter, S.C., whose bridge and dam on West Liberty street were damaged in the flooding, Ardis notes. The site is home of the “world-famous” Iris Gardens, he adds.

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