• 'Fire hose' of moisture slams South Carolina

    Updated:

    COLUMBIA, S.C. - "This is a Hugo-level event," said Maj. Gen. Robert Livingston, head of the South Carolina National Guard, referring to the September 1989 hurricane that devastated Charleston. "We didn't see this level of erosion in Hugo. ... This water doesn't fool around."

    Much-feared Hurricane Joaquin missed the East Coast, but fueled what experts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration called a "fire hose" of tropical moisture that aimed directly at the state. 

    10:40 p.m. update from SC Emergency Management.

     

    • Ten South Carolina counties continue to operate under a State of Emergency. 
    • All but two dams in the Forest Lake area have breached, causing additional flooding. Local law enforcement agencies have implemented a mandatory evacuation for neighborhoods in the immediate area. 
    • A total of 19 dams have breached statewide 
    • The S.C. Highway Patrol reports 3,196 total calls for service, including 1,112 collisions as of 4 p.m., Oct. 5. There have been four traffic fatalities statewide that were weather-related since the emergency declaration began. There now have been seven weather-related fatalities involving drowning, including two additional drowning fatalities that were announced Monday in Richland County. This now brings the total weather-related fatalities to 11. 
    • The S.C. Department of Natural Resources has successfully completed 150 swift water rescues Monday. 
    • Nearly 1,000 people have reported to 34 shelters open around the state. 
    • The S.C. Highway Patrol reports 374 roads and 161 bridges closed.
    • Numerous reports have been received about drivers moving barricades away from blocked roadways. 
    • The S.C. Department of Transportation is monitoring the Interstate 26 bridge at the Saluda River in Richland County which remains closed.
    • The S.C. Army National Guard flew 24 missions Monday.
    • Fewer than 3,500 customers are without power.
    • The Public Information Phone System has fielded 3,800 telephone requests for information.

     

    9:15 p.m. update

    Governor Nikki Haley released the following statement after President Barack Obama signed a disaster declaration for South Carolina:

    "Tonight's federal declaration was an extremely important first step in our recovery.

    "We have now entered the largest recovery program our nation offers in an almost unprecedented timeframe. What this allows us to do is to assess the damage of this storm in every single county and continue to add to the list of those eligible for this support - a list we know will grow.

    "The people of South Carolina have my commitment: at the end of this process every county and every person will have access to every resource we can get them.  This will not be a short or easy recovery, but we will get through it, and get through it together."

    7 p.m. update

    President Barack Obama has signed a disaster declaration, ordering federal aid to help recovery efforts in South Carolina.

    The president's action on Monday makes federal funding available to people in Charleston, Dorchester, Georgetown, Horry, Lexington, Orangeburg, Richland, and Williamsburg counties.

    Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the flooding.

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency said damage surveys are continuing in other areas, and additional counties may be designated for assistance after the assessments are fully completed.

    12:35 p.m. update

    The 16.6 inches of rain that fell on the Gills Creek area near Columbia on Sunday was the rainiest day in one single spot in the U.S. in more than 16 years.

    That's according to weather stations with more than 50 years of record-keeping.

    The National Weather Service says the last time there was that much rain in one spot on a single day was Sept. 16, 1999, when 18.3 inches fell on Southport, North Carolina, during Hurricane Floyd.

    The 16.6 inches in Gill Creek on Sunday ranks 17th overall in single day rainfall events since 1959, when the data starts for this particular extreme rainfall database.

    ___

    12:25 p.m. update

    South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley says the rain is starting to back off after inundating the state, but she is still warning people that the danger is not over.

    • PRESS PLAY to watch Nikki Haley's Monday flood update:

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    She says officials will be closely following a wave of floodwater Monday as it moves across the state toward the coast. More communities may have to be evacuated and more roads and bridges may need to be closed as the water runs downstream toward the coast.

    More than 40,000 people are without water and water distribution sites are being set up. She says at least nine people have died in the state. Five of them drowned and four were killed in traffic-related accidents. More than 900 people are in shelters and about 26,000 people are still without power.

    ___

    10:45 a.m. update

    Authorities say a 56-year-old man who tried to drive his sedan through floodwaters in South Carolina has died, the ninth fatality since a slow-moving rainstorm began several days ago.

    Kershaw County Coroner David West said McArthur Woods drowned after driving around a barricade Sunday night into standing water on a road in Lugoff, a community northeast of Columbia.

    Someone called 911 around 10 p.m. after hearing a passenger in the car screaming. The 28-year-old woman managed to climb out through a window and get on top of the car. A firefighter with a tether waded into several feet of water and rescued her.

    Woods wasn't able to make it out of the car, which was already submerged when the woman was saved.

    West said the woman was taken to the hospital and doesn't appear to have life-threatening injuries.

    ___

    10:30 a.m. update

    Attorney General Alan Wilson is warning South Carolinians that a law against price gouging is under effect in the wake of torrential rains and flooding across the state.

    The top prosecutor issued a news release Monday saying the law went into effect when Gov. Nikki Haley issued a state of emergency for the state.

    Wilson urges people to notify his office if they see gouging happening for prices of commodities including food, gasoline, lodging and water.

    ___

    8:15 a.m. update

    Floodwaters are starting to recede in Charleston, one of the areas hardest hit as days of torrential rain gripped South Carolina.

    But public schools and government offices in Charleston remained closed Monday. City officials say about 30 streets and intersections are still closed because of standing water. Others roads in outlying areas closed as well.

    By morning, though, the rain had stopped in Charleston. Officials say some flooding should recede with the midmorning low tide. The high tide Monday afternoon is not predicted to be nearly as high as those of the weekend.

    ___

    8:15 a.m. update

    The flooding across South Carolina has forced desperate rescues for some, and discomfort and unexpected expense for nearly everyone.

    Pastor Robert Hunter went to church Sunday morning and couldn't return afterward to his home in the Florence County town of Pamplico.

    Early Monday, from a hotel off Interstate 95 about 15 miles from his home, the 63-year-old Hunter said: "I got about less than a mile from my home, and the water there had broken across the road. The road was impassable, and all the other little roads around were impassible."

    He was trying to return home after leading Sunday services. He says he crossed bridges with water already up to the point that it was rushing across the span's pavement. After trying alternates, he gave up and checked into the hotel about an hour before it filled up.

    He says his wife was OK at their home on a small rise more than a mile from the Pee Dee River.

    ___

    8:05 a.m. update

    Gov. Nikki Haley says South Carolina is facing rain and flooding the likes of which haven't been seen in 1,000 years, with 2 feet of rain reported in some areas.

    Haley told NBC's Today show on Monday morning, "Our obvious priority is safety."

    Haley says six people have died in her state. Another died in North Carolina.

    The governor also says: 381 roads are closed, with 127 bridges down. More than two dozen shelters are open. Over 1,000 law enforcement personnel and 1,000 transportation department workers are working. Utility crews are working to restore service to 30,000 customers.

    Haley says most people are heeding her plea to stay off the roads.

    She says: "I think they get it. All you have to do is look out the window and see the flooding. It doesn't take long for you to get in your car and realize you've got to turn back around."

    Haley plans another update at an 11:30 a.m. news conference. She warns that the worst isn't over yet, as rain is still falling.

    ___

    7:25 a.m. update

    Record rainfall totals have been recorded in South Carolina's capital city as part of historic flooding that has deluged the area.

    The National Weather Service says Sunday was the wettest day in the history of Columbia. The rainfall total at the Columbia Metropolitan Airport was 6.87 inches, the most rain that's ever fallen there in one day.

    Forecasters say the old record of 5.79 inches was set July 9, 1959.

    The two-day rainfall total for Saturday and Sunday was 10.44 inches. That breaks the old record of 7.69 inches set over August 16 and 17, 1949.

    Since Friday, more than 20 inches of rain has fallen in some parts of Columbia. The Weather Service says Gills Creek, an area that has seen neighborhoods and thoroughfares under water, had recorded 20.28 inches as of early Monday morning.

    The storm stretched beyond South Carolina - in Georgia, more than 14,000 customers were still without power early Monday. That's down from 33,000 at the height of outages in the state. Many of the outages were in hard-hit Habersham County, where schools are closed Monday. Rain and high winds that toppled trees caused the outages.

    In Maryland, 14 people were rescued by boat after the Patuxent River flooded a mobile home park.

    ___

    6:50 a.m. update

    Authorities have released information about a South Carolina Department of Transportation worker killed in the aftermath of torrential rains and historic flooding in the state.

    The agency says in a news release that 45-year-old Timothy Wayne Gibson died in flood waters Sunday while overseeing work near downtown Columbia.

    DOT says Gibson was working on Garners Ferry Road, a major thoroughfare into the capital city that has seen feet of water pooling in residential and commercial areas.

    Transportation officials say Gibson was with the agency's Richland Maintenance Unit and was traveling in a truck that was caught in rushing waters, overturned and was swept away. An autopsy is scheduled Monday.

    So far, at least seven deaths have been blamed on the vast storm that has forced hundreds from their homes, canceled schools and prompted rescues of stranded citizens by water and air.

    ___

    6 a.m. update

    Thousands of South Carolina residents are waking up to homes without electricity after historic flooding throughout the state.

    An online coverage map showed that power was out early Monday morning for more than 13,500 South Carolina Electric & Gas customers. Nearly 12,000 of those outages were in Richland and Lexington counties, where flood waters have been abundant in many neighborhoods and commercial areas.

    Duke Energy said that about 7,800 of its customers had no electricity, primarily in the northwestern corner of South Carolina.

    As of late Sunday afternoon, officials said more than 6,000 electric cooperative customers were without power, most of those also in the central and northwestern parts of the South Carolina.

    ___

    5:50 a.m. update

    A mother and her infant affected by historic South Carolina flooding have been rescued from their roof top via helicopter.

    The U.S. Coast Guard said in a news release that a crew plucked Cristi Mueller and her 15-month-old daughter Kailynn Walts from the roof of their home in Huger in Berkeley County.

    Crews got reports at around 6:20 a.m. Sunday that the family was stranded due to severe flooding in the neighborhood.

    A crew aboard an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Savannah, Georgia, was launched to rescue the two. Mueller and her daughter were taken to Mt. Pleasant Regional Airport. Officials say the woman and her child were not hurt.

    ___

    Sunday evening update

    North Carolina has sent help to South Carolina after historic flooding washed out roads and bridges and left some residents stranded in their homes, businesses and vehicles.

    In a press briefing Sunday afternoon, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said that,"We haven't seen this level of rain in the low country in a 1,000 years."  

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    Thousands of South Carolina residents are waking up to homes without electricity after historic flooding throughout the state.

    An online coverage map showed that power was out early Monday morning for more than 13,500 South Carolina Electric & Gas customers. Nearly 12,000 of those outages were in Richland and Lexington counties, where flood waters have been abundant in many neighborhoods and commercial areas.

    Duke Energy said that about 7,800 of its customers had no electricity, primarily in the northwestern corner of South Carolina.

    As of late Sunday afternoon, officials said more than 6,000 electric cooperative customers were without power, most of those also in the central and northwestern parts of the South Carolina.

    Days of torrential rains kept much of South Carolina and its capital gripped by floodwaters early Monday as emergency responders promised renewed door-to-door searches for anyone still trapped after a weekend deluge and hundreds of rescues.

    At least seven weather-related deaths have been blamed on the rainstorm that has lingered for days and been linked to an unusually deep low pressure system. The storm dumped so much rain on South Carolina and parts of surrounding states that even veteran weather experts called it unprecedented.

    Police in Columbia, the capital city, said searchers would go door-to-door in the hardest-hit areas later Monday for any still seeking safety. And it could take weeks or longer to ensure the safety of numerous roads, highways and bridges rendered impassible by a historic rainstorm that pummeled South Carolina.

    Members of N.C. National Guard and six North Carolina Helo Aquatic Rescue Teams (NC HART) deployed for Columbia Sunday evening.

    Twenty-one men in three helicopters left from a National Guard base in Salisbury, North Carolina at approximately 6 p.m..

    “I’ve seen a few of the videos,” said Major Jack Potvin, who is with NC National Guard and will help manage and coordinate operations in South Carolina. “Some places are heavily flooded.”

    Potvin said crews were notified they were being deployed around noon. They quickly loaded their equipment into three helicopters at the base in Salisbury and then received their orders and an update on conditions in S.C.

    https://twitter.com/lizfosterWSOC9/status/650758461559476224

    Potvin said seven people were inside each helicopter, including four members of the National Guard and a three-person NC HART team. Those members will rescue people trapped in the rising flood waters.

    “People trapped in cars, people trapped in their houses or hotels,” said Douglas Dejonge, with NC HART. “Myself as Rescuer One will go down and pick up those people in whatever manner we think is best.”

    Dejonge is also a captain with the Charlotte Fire Department. A total of six firefighters from the department are taking part in the operation. 

    “It’s an excellent opportunity to reach out and assist people in a different manner,” said Dejonge. 

    Crews are expected to remain in South Carolina for two to three days. Officials said the highly-specialized teams were used extensively following hurricanes Frances and Ivan in 2004 to rescue an estimated 350 residents.

    "NC HART has been in operation for 10 years. It's a great example of the partnership among the N.C. National Guard, Emergency Management, law enforcement and Emergency Medical Services. NC HART has rescued more than 70 people in its 10 years," said Col. Brian Pierce, NCNG state aviation officer. "We're going to get down to South Carolina as quickly as possible to help our neighbors during this disaster."


    DOT worker among those killed in flooding

    Authorities have released more information about a South Carolina Department of Transportation worker killed in the aftermath of torrential rains and historic flooding in the state.

    The agency says in a news release that 45-year-old Timothy Wayne Gibson died in flood waters on Sunday while overseeing work near downtown Columbia.

    DOT says Gibson was working on Garners Ferry Road, a major thoroughfare into the capital city that has seen feet of water pooling in residential and commercial areas.

    Transportation officials said Gibson was with the agency's Richland Maintenance Unit and was traveling in a truck that was caught in rushing waters, overturned and was swept away. An autopsy was scheduled Monday.

    So far, at least seven deaths have been blamed on the vast storm that has forced hundreds from their homes, cancelled schools and prompted rescues of stranded citizens by water and air.


    Rainfall sets new record in South Carolina

    Record rainfall totals have been recorded in South Carolina's capital city as part of historic flooding that has deluged the area.

    The National Weather Service says Sunday was the wettest day in the history of Columbia. The rainfall total at the Columbia Metropolitan Airport was 6.87 inches, the most rain that's ever fallen there in one day.

    Forecasters said the old record of 5.79 inches was set July 9, 1959.

    The two-day rainfall total for Saturday and Sunday was 10.44 inches. That broke the old record of 7.69 inches set over August 16 and 17, 1949.

    Since Friday, more than 20 inches of rain has fallen in some parts of Columbia. The Weather Service says Gills Creek, an area that has seen neighborhoods and thoroughfares under water, had recorded 20.28 inches as of early Monday morning.


    70-mile section of I-95 closed due to flooding

    The South Carolina Department of Transportation has closed a 70-mile section of I-95 between the I-20 and I-26 interchanges.

    The decision to close that portion of I-95 was made Sunday due to weather conditions in the area, including a number of flooded sections of the interstate that required several detours. 

    The alternate route is I-20 Florence to I-77 around Columbia, then onto I-26 east for motorists to return to I-95. Northbound travelers would reverse this route.

    The closing of a portion of I-95 was closely coordinated by SCDOT Acting Secretary Christy A. Hall and South Carolina Department of Public Safety Director Leroy Smith.

    In addition, Hall has reached out to the North Carolina Department of Transportation and the Georgia Department of Transportation to coordinate the closure and make the information available for motorists in both states.

    Traveler information is available on the SCDOT website.


    Rock Hill firefighters heading to Columbia

    Four Rock Hill firefighters are also heading to Columbia equipped with a rescue boat.

    It's the first time these firefighters have been deployed out of their city for water rescues.

    https://twitter.com/wsoctv/status/650804394397569024

    "Dealing with moving water and flood waters is always a challenge,” Battalion Chief Trey Hovis said.

    In addition to the moving water and flood water, Hovis added rescuing people from flooded houses and vehicles can be even more challenging in the dark.

    “Plus, we're extricating down in the dark, so tonight it's going to be an added challenge," Hovis added.

    The firefighters are going down to Columbia for a 24-hour shift.

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