North Carolina

Part of SC I-95 closed by floods from Florence

Nine miles of northbound Interstate 95 just south of the South Carolina-North Carolina border are impassable because of flooding from Tropical Depression Florence, the S.C. Department of Transportation said Monday.

However, the southbound stretch of I-95 from mile marker 181 to mile marker 190 has re-opened, the state agency said Monday shortly after 10 a.m.

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“The northbound lanes remain closed from mile markers 181-190,” the agency said in a tweet.

Also on Monday morning, the S.C. Highway Patrol announced flooding around mile marker 185-186 in the northbound lane.

North Carolina officials continued to state Monday morning that “travel not advised in or through North Carolina” and said specificially that “due to flooding in southern and eastern North Carolina ... several sections of I-95 are flooded.” The North Carolina agency did not identify which sections of I-95 are flooded.

Announcements of flooding that had closed stretches of I-95 in North and South Carolina caused officials in both states to urge motorists to stay away from I-95. South Carolina officials warned travelers who usually might take I-95 through South Carolina to instead use interstate routes in central and western South Carolina and avoid I-95.

Northbound motorists who had hoped to drive I-95 through South Carolina should take a wide detour west toward Columbia, an S.C. Highway Patrol spokesman said.

“We are encouraging people who are traveling north on I-95 to take either I-26 west to Columbia, and then go by I-77 north to Charlotte,” said Capt. Kelley Hughes just before noon Sunday. “Or they should take I-20 west from I-95 at Florence to Columbia, and then go on I-77 north to Charlotte.”

In South Carolina, I-95 is closed from Exit 181 (S.C. 38) to Exit 190 (S.C. 34), the DOT said. That stretch of I-95 is in Dillon County.

The closure affects both northbound and southbound lanes and began shortly after 4 a.m. Sunday, the S.C. Highway Patrol reported.

South Carolina’s impassable area begins about 10 miles south of the tourist stop South of the Border, which straddles the South Carolina-North Carolina line.

Troopers and warning signs are at the locations where I-95 in South Carolina is closed, Hughes said.

Sections of I-95 were closed in 2015 during epic flooding in the fall of that year.

Meanwhile, the N.C. Department of Transportation warned southbound travelers on I-95 to avoid most of that interstate.

The Fayetteville Observer in Fayetteville, N.C., home of the U.S. Army’s Fort Bragg, reported mid-Sunday afternoon that “most of I-95 is closed between the S.C. line (at mile marker 1) to mile marker 100” on I-95.

Travel is “extremely hazardous across North Carolina,” the N.C. DOT wrote on its website, warning motorists to stay out of the eastern portion of the state.

All North Carolina roads south of U.S. 64 and east of I-73-74 are affected. “Motorists should not drive in these areas,” the N.C. DOT said.

It also warned travelers from relying too much on GPS digital road maps. “GPS systems are routing users into areas NCDOT is not recommending for travel,” the agency said.

I-95 is one of the most heavily-traveled interstate highways on the East Coast and runs from Maine to Florida.

The South Carolina portions of I-95 that are now underwater are on low-lying bridges that, in normal times, pass over rivers flowing to the sea and coastal Horry and Georgetown counties.

Highway Patrol Cpl. Sonny Collins, patrol spokesman for counties in South Carolina’s Pee Dee section, which stretches roughly from northern I-95 east to Myrtle Beach and Georgetown, said motorists getting off I-95 should take care because some two-lane roads in that area are covered with water.

“We are seeing the most flooding on the (secondary) roads in Marion and Dillon counties,” Collins said. “If you are going to travel, be prepared to take an alternate road and don’t try to take roads marked ‘closed.’ The water on some of these roads has gotten deep.”

The low-elevation swampy area from I-95’s Exit 181 to Exit 190 lies between two major river systems — the Pee Dee and the Little Pee Dee — that originate in North Carolina and flow south eastward to coastal South Carolina.

In 2015, after a historic rainfall, portions of I-95 in the same low-lying areas of South Carolina were closed for more than a week.

Follow more of our reporting on Hurricane Florence

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