Hazard Mitigation Plan Abbeville County, SC

Hazard Mitigation Plan Abbeville County, SC

Hazard Mitigation Plan Abbeville County, SC

I. Introduction

The Abbeville County Hazard Mitigation Plan was developed in accordance with the requirements of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Section 322 local hazard mitigation planning regulations as well as additional guidance documents provided by FEMA and the South Carolina Office of Emergency Management. The goal of this plan is to assist Abbeville County in reducing the human and economic costs of natural disasters. This plan provides a comprehensive risk assessment, vulnerability analysis, mitigation strategies, and implementation schedule for the county and each of the municipalities. At the request of the Abbeville County Emergency Management Office and the Abbeville County Council, this plan analyzes both natural and man-made hazards including acts of terrorism.

A.Description of Planning Area

Abbeville County is located in the Upstate of South Carolina along the Savannah River. The county is bordered on the north by Anderson County and Laurens County, on the east by Greenwood County, to the south by McCormick County, and to the west by Georgia and the Savannah River. The total land area in Abbeville County is approximately 508 square miles. Abbeville is located approximately 14 miles from Greenwood, SC and 89 miles from Columbia, SC. The population of Abbeville County based on the 2000 Census was 26,167, showing an increase of 2,305 over the last decade.

The County contains five incorporated municipalities: Abbeville (county seat), Calhoun Falls, Donalds, Due West, and Lowndesville, all of which are small towns in rural settings. Abbeville County also contains the following unincorporated communities: Antreville, Arborville, Cold Spring, Lake Secession, Latimer, Level Land, and Sharon. A small portion of the incorporated towns of Honea Path and Ware Shoals also lie within Abbeville County.

Abbeville County has a continental-type climate, predominantly influenced by air from the west, which has traveled across the central United States. Winters are generally short, with very few days of intense cold. The mean temperature for January is 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Summers are warm, with high humidity and afternoon thunderstorms. The mean temperature during July is 81˚F. Precipitation tends to be evenly distributed throughout the year, with an annual average of approximately 48 inches, almost all of that exclusively as rain.

There are an estimated 13,000 structures in the county. Approximately 95% of these buildings are considered residential uses. The County has other amenities including a Courthouse, schools, fire departments, an emergency communications facility, and a Sheriff’s Office. There are also facilities that store hazardous materials and small dams located in Abbeville County.

  • Abbeville is located near the center of Abbeville County and is the county seat. It is surrounded by unincorporated and largely undeveloped areas. Abbeville is approximately 6 square miles and has a population of 5,840 making it the largest municipality in the county. Gentle slopes characterize the topography of Abbeville. The largest portion of the City is made up of single-family residential areas. Approximately 1,900 acres of the land areas in the city fall within this land use. Duplex and multi-family residential uses account for an estimated 100 acres within the city. Commercial development in Abbeville is primarily focused in the Central Business District (CBD) and along Highway 72, an area covering approximately 600 acres.
  • Calhoun Falls is situated approximately fifteen miles west of Abbeville. According to the 2000 Census the population of Calhoun Falls is 2,303. The town is approximately 2.5 square miles in area and is surrounded by agricultural or undeveloped land.
  • Donalds is located north of Abbeville. It is approximately 1 square mile in area and has a population of 354. Donalds is a residential community surrounded by farmlands.
  • Due West is situated approximately eight miles north of Abbeville. According to the 2000 Census the population of Due West is 1,209. The town is approximately 2 square miles in area and is surrounded by agricultural or undeveloped land. Erskine College is located in Due West.
  • Lowndesville is located approximately 15 miles west of Abbeville. It is less than 1 square mile in area and has a population of 166, making it the smallest municipality in the County. Lowndesville is a residential community surrounded by farmlands.

II. Adoption Process and Documentation

The Abbeville County Hazard Mitigation Plan was developed as a multi-jurisdictional plan; therefore, to meet the requirements of Section 322 the final plan was to be adopted by each of the municipalities as well as the county. This section documents the adoption process of each local government in order to demonstrate compliance with this requirement. The plan was adopted prior to being submitted to FEMA Region III for final review.

Sample Hazard Mitigation Plan Adoption Resolution

Resolution # ______

Adopting the Abbeville CountyHazard Mitigation Plan

Whereas, (name of county or community) recognizes the threat that natural hazards pose to people and property; and

Whereas, undertaking hazard mitigation actions before disasters occur will reduce the potential for harm to people and property and save taxpayer dollars; and

Whereas, an adopted all hazards mitigation plan is required as a condition of future grant funding for mitigation projects; and

Whereas,(name of county or community) participated jointly in the planning process with the other local units of government within the County to prepare an Hazard Mitigation Plan;

Now, therefore, be it resolved, that the (name of board or council), hereby adopts the Abbeville County Hazard Mitigation Plan as an official plan; and

Be it further resolved, that Abbeville County will submit on behalf of the participating municipalities the adopted Hazard Mitigation Plan to Federal Emergency Management Agency officials for final review and approval.

Passed: ___(date)___


Certifying Official

III. Planning Process

The planning process utilized in Abbeville County was based on the Section 322 local planning requirements of the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 and supporting guidance documents developed by FEMA and the South Carolina Emergency Management Division. The planning process included the following steps, which will be described in greater detail throughout the plan:

  • Step 1: Establish a Hazard Mitigation Planning Committee
  • Step 2: Conduct the Risk Assessment
  • Step 3: Develop Capabilities Assessment
  • Step 4: Create Mitigation Plan
  • Step 5: Adopt and Implement Plan

This process was led by the Abbeville County Hazard Mitigation Planning Committee members and supported by Upper Savannah Council of Governments staff.

A.Abbeville County Hazard Mitigation Plan

The activities undertaken by Abbeville County are all overseen by the steering committee, which is made up of county, municipal, regional, and private entity representatives as described in the table below.

Table 1. Abbeville County Hazard Mitigation Committee Membership

Name / Organization
Steve McDade / Abbeville County EPD
Debbie Temple / Abbeville County EPD
Doug Burns / Abbeville County
David Krumwiede / City of Abbeville
Deborah Parks / Town of Calhoun Falls
Butch Sain / Town of Due West
Rick Green / Upper Savannah COG
Blake Lanford / Upper Savannah COG
Lynn Wegener / American Red Cross

Upper Savannah COG assists the county in various planning efforts and was available to convene and facilitate the meetings, consult with the local emergency preparedness professionals, and pull the entire document together in the end for public review and comment.

B.Risk Assessment and Mitigation Planning

One of the early acts of the Abbeville County was to create a Risk Assessment and Mitigation Plan to examine the community’s risks and vulnerabilities to natural and man-made hazards. This plan, begun in September 2003, comprised data from federal, county, municipal, and private sources.

Risk Assessment and Mitigation Planning Committee Membership

The Hazard Mitigation Planning Committee was tasked with most of the activities related to the development of this plan and was considered the Core Planning Team. Committee members have worked throughout the process from the initial meeting to the development of the plan.

County and Municipality Participation

County, city, and town participation must be defined in order to create a standard for participation in order for the entities to be considered as participants in the Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan process.

In order for counties to approve the plan and be an official participant of this planning process, they must satisfy the following consideration:

  • The county Emergency Management Director is a member of the Hazard Mitigation Planning Committee and provides input and commentary on the planning process.

In order for cities and towns to be official participants of the planning process, they must satisfy one of the following considerations:

  • The mayor, administrator, or manager attended a county or public meeting concerning the Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan and provided input and commentary on the planning process.
  • The mayor, administrator, or manager appointed a city or town employee to attend a county or public meeting concerning the Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan and that person provided input and commentary on the planning process.
  • The plan coordinator personally discussed the Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan with a mayor, administrator, manager, or appointed municipal representative.

Abbeville County Local Government Participation

Abbeville County

City of Abbeville

Town of Calhoun Falls

Town of Due West

Not participating: Town of Donalds – The Town relies on the County for hazard mitigation activities.

Town of Lowndesville – The Town relies on the County for hazard mitigation activities.

C.Public Involvement

Throughout the process there were opportunities for public input. A public meeting was held on September 25, 2003 to kick off the planning process and to describe the overall planning process. Invitation letters to the first public meeting were mailed to all local governments within or near Abbeville County, school districts, utility providers, and the Chamber of Commerce.

In addition, the final draft of the plan was placed at Upper Savannah COG offices for public comment and review. An email address and the telephone number of the Upper Savannah COG was provided with the draft plan to provide a mechanism for the public to provide comments back to plan development facilitators. In addition, all meetings the Hazard Mitigation Planning Committee were open to the public.

Notices of public meetings and locations of plan availability were inserted in a newspaper available in all participating jurisdictions. All comments that have been received to date from the public were reviewed and incorporated into the final version of the plan as appropriate.

In addition the public will be invited to the plan adoption hearing of the Abbeville County Council. A public notice of the adoption hearing will be posted.

After the plan is approved, public involvement will continue through regular presentations by the Emergency Preparedness Director and staff.

Public meeting minutes and an attendance list are included in the Appendix of this plan.

IV. Risk Assessment

Risk assessment is the process of measuring the potential loss of life, personal injury, economic injury, and property damage resulting from natural or man-made hazards. The results of this risk assessment assist Abbeville County and its incorporated municipalities in identifying and understanding their risks from natural and man-made hazards. This information also serves as the foundation for the developmentof the mitigation plan and strategies to help reduce risks from future hazard events.

This risk assessment followed the methodology described in the FEMA publication 386-2 “Understanding Your Risks – Identifying Hazards and Estimating Losses” and was based on a four-step process: 1) Identify Hazards, 2) Profile Hazard Events, 3) Inventory Assets, and 4) Estimate Losses. Using FEMA guidance, as well as the Section 322 regulations for developing local hazard mitigation plans EK has developed a risk assessment that identifies:

  • The hazards to which the county and its communities are susceptible.
  • The impact of these hazards on physical, social, and economic assets.
  • The areas within the county most vulnerable to these hazards.
  • The potential costs of damages or costs avoided through future mitigation projects.
  1. Hazard Identification

The first step in the risk assessment process was to identify each of the hazards that can occur within Abbeville County and its incorporated municipalities. This hazard identification process began with a review of previous hazard events based on historical data provided by the Abbeville County Emergency Preparedness Director, Steve McDade, and the Abbeville County Hazard Mitigation Plan coordinator, Rick Green. They also conducted a review of existing resources, plans, and reports provided by FEMA, Abbeville County, and other sources to understand the nature and extent of natural and man-made hazards in the county. In addition to these resources they also conducted hazard identification and prioritization exercises with the members of the Core Planning Team. The findings from these steps were utilized to determine the priority hazards for Abbeville County and its municipalities, which will become the focus of the mitigation strategies developed in the remainder of this plan.

1. Hazard History

Past occurrences of hazard events are likely predictors of future events. A review of the hazard history of Abbeville County, therefore, helps to provide a better understanding of what hazards the county is susceptible to. Detailed descriptions of the historic hazard events, including information on losses of life and property, as well as estimated damages are included in the Appendix. Below are summaries of the major events by hazard type based on information that was available during the development of this plan.


South Carolina has two high-water periods each year, one in December-April caused by winter rains and spring showers, another in the fall when tropical storms may bring additional rain. Hurricanes have often brought flash flooding and river flooding.

Abbeville County has some streams that are subject to flooding during heavy rainfall periods. The majority of these streams have sufficient depth to their banks to prevent flooding that will endanger human lives or real property. The Savannah River, which marks the western boundary of Abbeville County has no significant history of flooding in the immediate area. While flooding is experienced on many of the streams around the County during heavy rains, there are no recorded cases in recent history of deaths or injuries.

Recent Flooding Events

§ August 28, 1994: Flash flooding was reported around Abbeville and Calhoun Falls. No damage or injuries were reported.

§ August 26, 1995: Flash flooding occurred around Abbeville and Calhoun Falls. No injuries were reported, but this two day flood event caused nearly $2 million in damages.

§ February 4, 1998: Flash flooding occurred in all over the County. No damage or injuries were reported.

§ July 24, 2000: Flash flooding occurred in parts of the County. No damage or injuries were reported.

§ April 21, 2003: Flash flooding occurred in southern parts of the County. No damage or injuries were reported.

Winter Storm

There were major Southeastern snow storms in 1899, 1914, 1973, 2000, and 2002. Additionally, there have been many more localized winter storms. In January 1968 and February 1979 large ice storms paralyzed the County for several days. More recently in 1983 and in 2002 ice and snow storms covered the County resulting in power outages and hazardous driving conditions. Abbeville County suffers an average of one to two winter storms each year.

Recent Winter Storm Events

§ January 2, 1999: A winter ice storm resulted in road and business closures. School and government facilities were also forced to close. There were no reported injuries and no damage to public facilities. Snow was reported in the county in February 1999.

§ January 24, 2000: Heavy snowfall was reported over most of the state. Abbeville County was part of the Federal Disaster declaration. School and government facilities were also forced to close. There were no reported injuries and no damage to public facilities.

§ January 2, 2002: A winter storm resulted in road and business closures. School and government facilities were also forced to close. There were no reported injuries and no damage to public facilities.

§ December 4, 2002: A winter ice storm resulted in road and business closures. School and government facilities were also forced to close. There were no reported injuries and no damage to public facilities.


Abbeville County has experienced ten recorded incidences of tornado touchdowns since 1950. The most recent tornado occurred in 2003 and no deaths or injuries were reported.

§ March 31, 1973: A category F4 tornado killed 7, injured 30, and caused approximately $2,500,000 in property damage.

§ May 27, 1973: A category F2 tornado hit near Abbeville. Seven injuries were reported, and over $250,000 in property damage was recorded.

§ March 28, 1984: A category F1 tornado hit the County. Twenty-four people were injured. Nearly $25 million in property damage occurred as a result of this storm.

§ February 21, 2003: An F1 tornado hit near Abbeville causing no damage or injuries.

Manufactured housing is particularly vulnerable to high winds, whether from a tornado, thunderstorm, or tropical storm. There were over 3,191 manufactured homes in Abbeville County in 2000. The City of Abbeville had 370, Calhoun Falls had 278 manufactured homes, and Due West had 50.

Structural Fires

Considering that each fire has the capacity to spread rapidly, and that the fire might encompass hazardous materials and highly flammable and explosive materials necessitating the evacuation of a large number of people, the fire rating is moderate.


Forest fires are a serious problem in Abbeville County. Records indicate that humans cause a majority of these fires. Approximately 30 fires occur each year, burning over 100 acres. Other causes of fire include lightning, campfires, smoking, debris burning, incendiary equipment use, and railroads. In addition to the South Carolina Forestry Commission personnel, members of the Abbeville County rural fire departments assisted in extinguishing the fires which occurred.