Lumber river basin preps for Elsa

Estimated rainfall amounts as of Wednesday morning. (NWS graphic)
Estimated rainfall amounts as of Wednesday morning. (NWS graphic)

Storm weary towns and landowners along the Lumber River are hoping Elsa doesn’t bring more problems to already hard-hit areas in western Columbus.

Fair Bluff was devastated by Hurricane Matthew in 2016, then Florence in 2018. The town lost most of its businesses and a good portion of its population when homes and buildings were hit by flooding. Cleanup is still going on as the town tries to rebuild and find a new direction.

Both storms taught the town tough lessons in response, as the town hall and police department were lost to floodwaters. The fire and rescue department has a new building on higher ground, and all town offices were moved into the former BB&T building, also on a higher spot.

“We are gassed up and as prepared as we can be,” said Fair Bluff Mayor Billy Hammond. “We are sure we have all the resources available to handle any situation if the need should arise. The only impacts we could potentially have would be if the river flooded the area like in the past, but we do not believe that will be the case with this storm.”

At the Lumber River Campground near Evergreen, Jeannette Williamson said “everything is fine” right now, but they are watching the river.

“We are prepared, but we don’t want to hear the word ‘hurricane’,” Williamson said.

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Jefferson Weaver is the Managing Editor of Columbus County News and he can be reached at (910) 914-6056, (910) 632-4965, or by email at