With severe rainfall and widespread flooding, more than half of South Carolina has been estimated to be underwater. The water level in rivers will not see a dip any time soon, as tributaries upstream continue to flow into the Atlantic. On Sunday, a National Weather Service statement warned residents and civilians to “be alert to wildlife that may have been displaced by flood waters, including alligators and snakes.”
The flooding has led to at least 17 deaths. As many as 800 people are living in shelters after floodwater filled their homes and forced them out. While clear skies have been forecasted, more evacuations are likely to occur as the level of rivers remains above flood stage. “Don’t let the sunshine fool you,” Governor Nikki Haley said in a news conference. “We are still in the mode that the next 36 to 48 hours will be volatile.”
Fifteen people died in South Carolina, and two in North Carolina, as a result of severe rainfall. Reuters reports that 300 state-maintained roads and 160 bridges were closed due to excessive flooding. University of South Carolina in Columbia, which saw record-breaking rainfall over the weekend, cancelled its classes through Friday.
Brian Hinton, deputy chief of the Charleston County Volunteer Rescue Squad, called the flooding “a biblical event,” as reported by the New York Times. The Congaree River, flowing through downtown Columbia, reached four times the historic maximum before its gauge failed. On Sunday, water level gauge measuring Gills Creek in Columbia stopped recording after the level reached 10 feet above flood stage. A statement issued by the National Weather Service said the gauge had been washed away.
The flooding can be attributed to the tropical moisture brought in by Hurricane Joaquin. A “flash flood emergency” for Charleston was issued by the National Weather Service; residents were urged to “act quickly to protect your life.” With floodwaters continuing to afflict South Carolina on Sunday, the South Carolina Emergency Management Division issued a bulletin, which also included a push notification on Twitter, asking people that they remain where they were.
Officers and rescue workers were dispatched to trees, homes, and cars. The Coast Guard was deployed in Charleston to perform rescue operations. A firefighter became trapped in the floodwaters.
The highest amount of rainfall in South Carolina touched 26.8 inches, National Weather Service meteorologist, Carl Barnes, said. He further added that the days ahead could provide relief. “The worst has passed us, in terms of rainfall,” he said. “We’ll definitely have sun and some very welcome drying out for the rest of the week.”
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