CHARLESTON, S.C. — A Boise-based company is on the ground, helping protect homes in South Carolina ahead of Hurricane Florence.
Their flood fighting experience sent them out to Charleston where they're using the same barriers they put up in Boise during last year's flooding along the Boise River. Flood Defense Group owner Keith Anderson was on a beach restoration project in California when he was called to fly across the country immediately and protect homes near the beach in Charleston. He's done a lot of work in the southern port city and says it floods horribly.
Scenes of winds and rain tearing through North Carolina could become the scene in Charleston over the next couple days as Hurricane Florence slowly approaches and batters the Carolinas.
“It’s a matter of waiting and watching,” Anderson said on the phone with KTVB on Thursday. “Usually there’s so much traffic and people, and now you can walk right down the middle of Main Street and not have to get out of the road. There's nobody here. I mean there are people, there's always people here during a hurricane, there's always people who wait out the event. But everybody notes how it seems to be particularly - it's a ghost town. I mean, windows are boarded up sandbags are all over the place it has that war zone feeling.”
Flood Defense Group has boots on the ground in the popular coastal town, putting up barriers around homes.
“I probably have about 10 houses currently being protected by my stuff and I am personally overseeing three of them,” Anderson told KTVB. “I have water-filled barriers, I have essentially gravity barriers - uses the weight of water itself to hold water back, and then I have soil-filled barriers. So those are the three different types of barriers I've currently deployed to South Carolina.”
One of those types of barriers is known as the "muscle wall"; you may recall them being used to fortify Zoo Boise to protect from potential flood water last June, as well as shield the Sunroc gravel pit near Eagle Island the month prior.
"In the residential area some of these places are getting two-to-three feet and more of flood water but because it’s in a residential area where houses are quite close together, I need to be able to build something that can go quite high with really small footprint space,” Anderson added.
He says currently his team is fortifying their defenses around all the properties they’re protecting. Their main line of defenses in terms of barriers are up and they’ve done work to re-route gutters and drainage from within their protected perimeter to areas outside the perimeter.
“Going through my mind is basically keeping structures dry that I'm protecting. Mission accomplishment, I guess, is the best way to say it,” Anderson added.
People across the Carolina are fighting flooding that could come from persistent heavy rainfall, rivers backing up and spilling out of their banks, and disastrous coastal storm surges.
“There’s probably more people that have evacuated from this flood event than past flood events. They’re seasoned at dealing with hurricanes but taking this more seriously than they have in the past, I believe,” Anderson told KTVB.
Anderson and his team taking it seriously, too.
“I respect Mother Nature, I respect floodwaters. I have a life jacket and I have a spot where I know I can go hide that's quite high off the ground and hold on for dear life,” Anderson said. “It’s certainly exciting. Everyone here has their game face on and we're prepared to fight the flood.”
When KTVB spoke to Anderson Thursday afternoon, he said it was starting to get cloudy and winds were kicking up and they're preparing for it to hit Friday. His flight is booked for Sunday but he says it looks like he'll be in Charleston for at least another week.