Horry County Emergency Management Center
Conway, South Carolina
3:40 P.M. EDT
GOVERNOR MCMASTER: For those of you who haven’t been here for a while, welcome to South Carolina. Welcome to Conway. Welcome to Horry County. And if you’ve been looking for rain and water, you’ve come to the right place. (Laughter.)
We’re delighted to have the President here and others, as well. We have not had a disaster like this one before. Hurricane Hugo, in 1989, was a tremendous blow, but it came in in McClellanville, just above Charleston, and went through in a hurry.
Hurricane Florence came in and stayed, going to North Carolina and South Carolina, and left record amounts of rain. So our problem has not been with the wind and the rain hitting us, but with the rain that is still here. And we have not only the record amounts that have dropped on South Carolina, particularly in this third of the state, but we have the water coming down from North Carolina, because we have three watersheds, three river sheds. The Waccamaw, the Pee Dee, and the Lynches River. Those watersheds all coming to where we are.
So the rain and the water that you see out there now is just the beginning. The worst is yet to come. We’re going to have water outside this building, maybe four feet deep, maybe five feet deep, maybe something less. But we’ve got people that need help.
The good news is the team in South Carolina is up to the job. We have had the best cooperation and coordination and preparation that people say they have ever seen. And it goes from volunteers to private companies and private people, as well as the local authorities, the state authorities, with our congressional delegation, and everybody in between, not the least of which has been our federal partners. We’ve had more cooperation and coordination and communication with our federal partners than we have ever had before. This may be the worst disaster that we’ve had in South Carolina.
But the cooperation, and the assistance, and the encouragement, and the confidence they’ve given to our people, to the federal establishment and what we call “Team South Carolina,” is beyond compare.
So we are confident that we are going to build our way out of this. We’ve managed the hurricane. Now we’ve got to manage the floods. And then we’ll manage the reconstruction and the rebuilding.
And one great thing that we have helping us is this man standing behind me, President Donald Trump — one in a million. South Carolina loves you, and we’re delighted you’re here. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: First of all, Henry, thank you. And you’re doing a fantastic job. Everybody. Everybody — the job that you’re doing, the coordination.
We just left North Carolina. They got hit really, really hard, and they are working. And all of that water is coming your way. A lot of people don’t know that. They assume, and you look outside and you see this beautiful weather, but over the next couple of days, it’s going to get rough in South Carolina.
So the federal government is behind you. We have Lindsey Graham here. We have Tim. Where’s Tim and Lindsey? Tim Scott. They have really — they’re with us all the way. They’re with us all the way. And whatever we need from Washington, we are there.
Our team — I don’t think there’s ever been a team like this. From everybody — virtually everybody said it — what we’re doing on a federal basis, what you’re doing on a local basis, and the coordination has been absolutely incredible.
So I know you have a rough few days. It will last a long time. It could last a long time. But you’re going to have a rebuilding process, and we are behind you from day one. From three days ago, and now it looks nice, but it’s really the calm before the storm. Because you’re going to have a lot of water.
We see it; it’s coming down. It just comes down. Nobody would believe a thing like this could happen. And already you’ve broken all records, and this is going to add four, five, six feet of water all over the state.
So Washington is with you. Trump is with you. We are all with you 100 percent. And we’ll get through it. And I think the most exciting part is going to be that rebuild, because you’re going to have a lot of rebuilding. I flew over, and there’s a lot of damage. And you haven’t really been hit yet by comparison to what’s coming.
So I love South Carolina. I love this state. I’m very proud of Henry McMaster and the job he’s done as your governor. And I can tell you that Tim, and Lindsey, and myself, and Thom — the great congressman — we’re all in there fighting. And it’s going to work out very well.
This room — the job you do is great. And we really want to thank you. This is real emergency stuff at the highest level. And we want to thank you. So anything I can do, you all know where to call me. (Laughter.) And we will be there for South Carolina. (Applause.) We’re going to be there for this disaster. Thank you all.
I’d like to introduce a man who has truly been working overtime and he has been prepared for this for actually a long time. But over the last four or five days, there’s nobody that’s worked harder than General Livingston. And I just want to thank you. And, General, maybe you could say a few words?
GENERAL LIVINGSTON: Yes, sir. Thank you so much. You know, in South Carolina, we always talk about Team South Carolina. And everybody sitting out here is part of Team South Carolina. And I told that to the President; I said, maybe you ought to call it “Team America” now that (inaudible) is here and O’Shaughnessy has come in, and Lengyel has come in. He says, “No, I like South Carolina.” He wants to be part of our team. (Laughter.) So that’s Team South Carolina. Team South Carolina has been out there from day one with evacuations. We’ve been evacuating people, working search and rescue, taking care of our citizens, welfare checks, security, infrastructure hardening. And that’s everybody sitting in this room doing that.
And now, we’re getting ready for this flood. We’re really working on that infrastructure, getting ready move our people. And we’ve got backup to backup to backup. If we lose a road, which we don’t think we’re going to do, but if we lose a road, we’ve got bridges. We’re going to bring the bridges in. We’ve got aircraft. We are ready to take care of the people of South Carolina who also happen to be part of Team South Carolina.
I do want to give a real quick shout-out to the Governor’s military force, the South Carolina National Guard. While we’re fighting this flood, we got men and women down on the southwest border, we’ve got men and women in Afghanistan, and we’ve got men and women in Kuwait fighting the Syrian battle, taking care of this nation while we also take care of our people.
Mr. President, thank you so much for your support of this great state.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Appreciate it. (Applause.)
DIRECTOR WEBSTER: So to kind of put things in perspective at the local level — first off, thank you to everyone who is involved in this. And many of you in this room are victims as well. And the support that you’ve given this operation, plus those in the field that are supporting what’s going on, not only — you know, all the volunteers, all the staff, everybody, all the coordination between all the jurisdictions. In my opinion, this is the way it’s supposed to be done. And I think we’re showing that each and every day.
You’re making it easy for me. And I’m hoping we’re making it easier for the President and the Governor and the General. Because if you do it right, it does become easier.
We’re looking at a very tough situation in Horry County and the Pee Dee. I don’t want to forget that. Record levels of flooding for three out of the last four years is a tremendous challenge. And I will tell you right now, this has been one of the most challenging events I’ve ever been involved in.
But the team — Team Horry, Team South Carolina, is making it — you know, every chance we can get to make this as good as we can, to save lives as much as possible, protect property as much as possible. And to do the things we can do now so hopefully the recovery will go quicker and we’ll get things up and running as soon as possible.
So we know what we’re facing. We want everybody else to understand what we may be facing. What’s coming is unprecedented. But we want everybody to know this team, all of us — state and federal partners — are behind everybody in Horry County and the Pee Dee region.
And we will get through it. We’ll make it happen. And we’ll all be better for it in the end. And I’m just very proud. And, Mr. President, I just want to thank you for your commitment and help on the federal level for everything you’re doing for us.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. (Applause.) Good luck, everybody. We’re with you all the way, 100 percent. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.)
3:50 P.M. EDT