Fifteen dead as South Carolina gripped by historic flooding

Fretwell adds that shortly after water levels had receded in Columbia Monday, an earthen dam failed, bringing more water into soaked areas.

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

“The number of bridges and roads out is unprecedented, and so we have a real snarl, particularly as you move inland up towards Columbia, the epicenter of what’s occurred” the South Carolina Republican told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program.

At least 11 people have died from the floods in South Carolina since the rain began to fall days ago. Many have imposed overnight curfews.

For now, South Carolinians not affected by the floods are looking for ways to help. Department of Transportation officials have blocked off hundreds of roads and bridges across the state, including a 75-mile swath of Interstate 95, to keep people from encountering such dangers.

“This is yet another example, like Sandy or Irene, of weather on “steroids”, another case where climate change worsened the effects of an already extreme meteorological event”, said Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University.

“This is not over”.

“The fact is that we’re getting six months’ worth of rain in two days that’s falling in an urbanized area”, said John Shelton of the U.S. Geological Survey.

Haley made an “extremely rare” verbal request for federal assistance for flooding victims on Monday, she said.

The lower story had nearly 8 feet of water in its bathroom and bedrooms, he said. The state Emergency Management Division said Tuesday afternoon that a 13-mile stretch of I-95 in Clarendon County will remain closed because inspectors don’t think it is safe enough yet for traffic on the bridges over the Black and Pocotaligo rivers. The extended rainstorm also was blamed for two deaths in North Carolina.

Mayor Steve Benjamin said Monday that he believes things will get worse before they get better, according to CNN. Watts says Milroy was found dead in his vehicle after 10 p.m. on Monday in a neighborhood north of downtown Columbia. A firefighter rescued her after someone heard her screams.

Almost 30,000 customers were without electricity at the storm’s peak, but the power grid is coming back on, the governor said.

The flooding forced hundreds of weekend rescues and threatened the drinking water supply for Columbia, with officials warning a few could be without potable water for days because of water main breaks.

The lakes and ponds got so high, the dams couldn’t take it anymore, Shirer said. The water was not for consumption.

Columbia city officials have released a statement issuing a boil water advisory to all 375,000 of its water customers, advising them to vigorously boil their water for at least a full minute.

“Aircraft are ready, making rescues and staying ahead of it”, he said of ongoing efforts.

Columbia city officials on Tuesday urged residents from other areas to donate water to the city, which lost water service during the storm. But that was enough to leave him stranded for hours.

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“I’m the sheriff of a bunch of islands”, Garrett said. “God allowed me to be here; Now I’ve just got to figure out what to do with the extra time I’ve been given”. Contributors include Associated Press writers Bruce Smith in Charleston; Alex Sanz in Georgetown; Susanne M. Schafer and Jeffrey Collins in Columbia; Meg Kinnard in Blythewood; and Seth Borenstein in Washington, D.C. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Residents are concerned that the Ashley river in South Carolina will continue to rise as floodwaters come down from Columbia