At least seven people died due to extremely heavy rainfall in South Carolina. The rainfalls, being called as once-in-a-millennium downpour, flooded the southeastern United States state on Sunday.
By early Sunday, the storm had brought in more than 18 inches of rain in parts of central South Carolina. While the rainfall is beginning to abate, there is still expected to be another 2 to 6 inches of rainfall through Monday. The Congaree River reached its highest level since 1936. South Carolina Governor, Nikki Haley, said this kind of rainfall would strike once in 1,000 years. “Our goal is all hands on deck. If you are in your house, stay in your house,” Haley said. “This is not something to be out taking pictures of.”
According to Reuters, five people were reportedly killed in weather related incidents. Three of these occurred in traffic accidents, while two were reported in North Carolina. Around 24 inches of rainfall was experienced in Mount Pleasant, almost 20 inches in areas around Charleston and in excess of 18 inches in the Gills Creek area of Columbia. The “phenomenal amount of rainfall” was a “very dangerous situation,” said Steven Pfaff of the National Weather Service. “Flash flood warnings have been issued and many areas that received a large amount of rainfall 24 hours ago are being hit hard again,” said Plaff. “This is an extremely dangerous situation in those areas.”
A public service announcement video was issued by the weather service urging people to keep away from driving through rushing waters. “Do not attempt to drive into flooded roadways … it takes just 12 inches of flowing water to carry off a small car,” the announcement video said. “Turn around, don’t drown.” The governor asked people to “stay home” and “stay off the roadways” no matter “where you are in the state.”
CNN wrote that as many as 315 vehicular accidents happened in a 12 hour period on Sunday. During the same time, 750 motorists had called for assistance, Haley said. On Saturday, a state of emergency was declared in South Carolina by President Barack Obama, allowing federal emergency funds to become available. A portion of the Interstate 95, a major East Coast highway, was blocked due to the high level of water.
Eight water rescue teams, 11 aircraft and 600 National Guardsmen had been deployed for providing assistance in rescue and evacuation operations. States of emergency were also issued for North Carolina, New Jersey and Virginia on Sunday evening. Flood watches for Georgia and Delaware have been issued.
Meanwhile, Hurricane Joaquin progressed towards the Atlantic on Sunday, but kept away from the U.S. shores. It is, however, expected to bring along a storm surge in the northeast as it passes. “Life-threatening rip currents, high surf and coastal flooding, mainly at high tides, will stretch nearly the entire eastern U.S. coast,” CNN meteorologist, Michael Guy, said.
Also read: Hurricane Joaquin: ‘Historic, Potentially Life-Threatening’ Rainfall Expected This Weekend
With record breaking rainfall, Charleston received its greatest monthly rainfall for October. Similar precipitation records fell in several places. In excess of 200 rescues have occurred since Saturday night – with more to be expected in the coming days.
The flooding also forced Amtrak to cancel its Virginia-to-Florida auto train and a passenger train from New York to Miami.
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