As South Carolina continues to deal with epic rainfall, officials warn residents that flooding will impact the state for weeks to come.
After several days, some spots have received more than 25 inches of rain. Nine people are reported dead and dozens of roads and large stretches of interstate highways remain closed due to flooding. Authorities encourage people to stay at home as the state tries to deal with the disaster.
The areas of South Carolina that were hardest hit by the rain includes Columbia - in the middle of the state - and all the way from coastal cities Charleston up to Georgetown. According to the National Weather Service, Columbia suffered its rainiest day in history on Sunday. Meanwhile, Charleston has received two feet of rainfall.
According to South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, more than 600 National Guardsmen, eight swift water rescue teams and 11 aircraft worked to rescue citizens stranded due to the floods. Over 200 water rescues took place between Saturday night and Sunday morning.
CNN meteorologist Chad Myers reports that the multiple-day storm is the result of a weather system that brought moisture into the state but never left. Myers stated that, “It was a garden hose that just kept pouring ashore in one spot, and that spot was South Carolina.” Myers also pointed out that while the rain is beginning to move out of the state, some rivers will continue to rise over the next two weeks, meaning citizens will have to deal with flooding for the foreseeable future.
Haley described the storm as the worst the state has seen in 1,000 years - referring to the situation as a 1-in-1,000 chance of happening. “This is an incident we’ve never dealt with before.”
President Obama declared a statewide emergency over the weekend retroactive to Thursday, authorizing federal aid to help with the situation.
In addressing the citizens of South Carolina, Haley “heavily encouraged” government offices and schools to close Monday. “The main reason for that is this is not going to clear up until at least Tuesday or Wednesday.”
Officials also warned residents not to drive on streets, even if it looks like there is only a few inches of water. “Do not attempt to drive into flooded roadways. It takes just 12 inches of flowing water to carry off a small car. Turn around, don’t drown.”
Officials also urged people to boil their drinking water for now. “Rising water from flooding can carry viruses, bacteria, chemicals and other submerged objects picked up as it moves through storm water systems, across industrial sites, yards, roads and parking lots.” Those unsure about whether to boil their water should do so as a precaution.