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Flooding Takes Toll on Carolina Fleets

October 5, 2015

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Photo of North Carolina highway crews digging trenches to drain a flooded road courtesy of NCDOT.
Photo of North Carolina highway crews digging trenches to drain a flooded road courtesy of NCDOT.

In response to the catastrophic flooding in the Carolinas, the governors of South Carolina and North Carolina have issued executive orders that suspend federal hours-of-service requirements for truck drivers as well as certain truck size and weight limits for loads deemed necessary to help speed emergency relief in their states. In addition, President Obama has declared a state of emergency exists in South Carolina.

Gov. Pat McCrory signed North Carolina’s order on Oct. 1 “for vehicles transporting equipment and supplies for the restoration of utility services, carrying essentials, and for equipment for any debris removal” and for “vehicles used to transport livestock and poultry and carrying livestock and poultry feed in the emergency area.”

Gov. Nikki Haley signed South Carolina’s order on Oct. 2 “to ensure the delivery of equipment, materials, services, supplies, food, fuel timber, debris and other items in response to flooding operations throughout South Carolina.”

Heavy rains caused flooding in North Carolina and South Carolina over the weekend, leading to numerous road closures and state DOT workers responding around the clock. In South Carolina, the National Guard helped state highway managers evaluated river conditions and the state Department of Public Safety offered assistance maintaining traffic control at several interstates.

A highway worker with the South Carolina Department of Transportation died when flood waters swept his truck away during heavy rains in the Southeast on Oct. 4.

Timothy Wayne Gibson, 45, was overseeing work on Garners Gerry Road in Columbia when rushing flood waters overturned his maintenance truck. He likely died as a result of drowning, according to Richland County Coroner Gary Watts. Gibson was assigned to the Richland Maintenance Unit. He had worked for SCDOT since February of 2013, according to the agency.

Trucking companies said they weren’t hit as hard as they feared, according to the Charlotte Observer. Some terminals were closed due to flooding, it reported, and carriers dealt with road closures by rescheduling pickups and deliveries. Although many smaller roads were closed because of flooding or structural damage, major arteries were open, with the exception of part of Interstate 95 in South Carolina.

On Monday, SCDOT opened an I-126 bridge leading in and out of downtown Columbia and I-20 around Columbia. Interstates that remained closed Monday included a 70-mile section of I-95 from I-26 to I-20 and I-26 in the Columbia/Lexington area at the Saluda River.

North Carolina Department of Transportation road crews also worked around the clock over the weekend to address flooding, responding to areas to dig trenches to drain water from swamped roadways. Stretches of four primary roads — N.C. 210 at North Topsail; N.C. 133, near N.C. 87, in Brunswick County; N.C 12 at Ocracoke; and N.C. 12 in Kitty Hawk — remained closed Monday.

City fleet maintenance workers were also busy this weekend dealing with flooding-related issues. The Fayetteville (N.C.) Public Works Commission's fleet maintenance unit "worked to insure any PWC or city service vehicles critical for emergency response and storm restoration are ready," spokeswoman Carolyn Justice-Hinson told the Observer.

Flooding also disrupted rail service in North Carolina, forcing Amtrak, CSXT, and Norfolk Southern to cancel some service.

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