Dorian Pummels Charleston, S.C.

Sep 5, 2019
Originally published on September 5, 2019 7:20 pm
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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Hurricane Dorian crawled up the South Carolina coast today, pounding the eastern part of the state with wind and rain. The National Weather Service says hurricane conditions will continue in South Carolina for a few more hours. NPR's science reporter Rebecca Hersher is in Charleston. She's been feeling the effects of the storm all day.

Hey there, Rebecca.

REBECCA HERSHER, BYLINE: Hey.

KELLY: Hey. So tell me what exactly you've seen, what it sounded like.

HERSHER: Well, it actually woke me up last night at about 4:00 a.m. It was really windy. Today has been a really rainy, windy day. You know, gusts of wind strong enough to break off pretty big branches that are in the street, downed trees. You know, it's nothing you'd want to drive your car in, nothing you'd want to walk around in. But really the thing that everyone's worried about is flooding. It's been on everyone's minds, watching the tides. At this point, there was a high tide this afternoon, it did not cause serious flooding in Charleston. Hopefully the same will be true in communities that are further up the coast that are still in it.

KELLY: Right. Now, there's not supposed to be anybody in Charleston, right? There was a mandatory evacuation order. Did people obey it?

HERSHER: A lot of people did, yeah, although not necessarily when it was announced, which was over the long weekend. But by the time the storm arrived on Wednesday, it was pretty empty here. Everything was closed. That said, a lot of people did stay, and that often happens. I mean, people with pets don't want to take them to hotels or shelters or people don't have access to transportation. Some people are just gambling that it won't be as destructive as it seemed at the beginning.

KELLY: Yeah. So it sounds as though things have not been horrendous this time, as though Charleston may have dodged a bullet. But would city officials - would the state have been prepared for a bigger storm?

HERSHER: You know, they would like to think they would. And it can be helpful, a storm of this kind, where you dodge a bullet, as you said. It's the kind of storm that gets more likely as the Earth gets hotter - you know, slow moving for days, threatening lots of rain. So getting this kind of dry run, so to speak...

KELLY: So to speak, yeah.

HERSHER: ...Seeing how the evacuation goes, seeing who decides to stay, how flood control infrastructure performs, that's all really, really helpful if you're trying to better prepare for the hurricanes of the future. And officials think that this was a pretty good dry run, and they feel relatively well-prepared, although they would not have been able to deal with a direct hit.

KELLY: Thank you, Rebecca.

HERSHER: Thanks so much.

KELLY: That's NPR's science reporter Rebecca Hersher reporting from Charleston. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.