Washington, Oct 6 (IANS) As South Carolina Tuesday began a slow recovery from what its Indian-American governor Nikki Haley called a “1,000-year level of rain” President Barack Obama signed a disaster declaration ordering federal aid to help recovery efforts.
Haley said authorities were expecting to evacuate more people as the floodwaters flowed from the state’s midlands to the coast.
“This is not over – just because the rain stops doesn’t mean we are out of the woods,” she told reporters, according to NBC.
“Even though you’re not seeing rain, there is still water out there.”
“We are at a 1,000-year level of rain,” Haley said earlier. “That’s how big this is.”
Experts said this means that the amount of rainfall in South Carolina has a 1-in-1,000 chance of happening in any given year.
South Carolina officials also warned Monday that the dangers from the state’s unprecedented floods that began Oct 1 weren’t over and that clearing skies didn’t erase the threat of shifting water and unstable roads.
At least 12 weather-related deaths in the Carolinas were blamed on the vast rainstorm – 10 in South Carolina and two in North Carolina.
The state Office of Emergency Management said at least eight dams across the state had been breached by flood waters.
Obama’s declaration makes federal funding available to people in Charleston, Dorchester, Georgetown, Horry, Lexington, Orangeburg, Richland and Williamsburg counties.
Haley also said she had talked to Obama, who offered his condolences and prayers as the state begins what the governor said would be a long assessment and recovery.
By Monday evening, 365 state-maintained roads and 166 bridges were closed, the state Transportation Department said.
Forty thousand people across the state remained without fresh running water, and 26,000 were without electricity.
Haley said 1,300 National Guard members were on duty and had performed 25 aerial rescues so far. Rescue teams were walking door to door to check on people stranded by the flooding.
Haley said that although the emergency services were shifting from a response to assessment mode, the state remains in a “vulnerable” situation after going through a storm it “has never seen before.”
While Hurricane Joaquin missed the East Coast, it fuelled a “fire hose” of tropical moisture aimed directly at the state, the weather service said.
The record for the most rain in 24 hours had been 14.80 inches, set during Hurricane Floyd in 1999.
That was smashed in several places, with some areas of the coast getting as much rain as they normally would in eight months, the National Weather Service said.
It reported almost 25 inches in Kingstree, 24 inches in the town of Longs in Horry County and 21 inches in Georgetown.