Update 7:16 p.m.
President Barack Obama declared a major disaster in South Carolina, providing aid for up to 11 counties in the wake of the flooding over the weekend.
Residents in eight counties — Charleston, Dorchester, Georgetown, Horry, Lexington, Orangeburg, Richland, and Williamsburg — can get federal assistance to pay for temporary housing and home repairs and get loans to cover uninsured property losses.
State and local governments in 11 counties can get federal aid for emergency work from the storm. The counties eligible are: Berkeley, Charleston, Clarendon, Dorchester, Georgetown, Horry, Lexington, Orangeburg, Richland, Sumter, and Williamsburg.
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Update: 6:18 p.m.
The coroner for the county surrounding Columbia has released the names of several people found dead in flooded vehicles, bringing the death toll from the storms to at least 12.
Richland County Coroner Gary Watts said a 35-year-old woman was found dead early Monday and a 78-year-old man was found late Sunday night at separate locations near Gills Creek, the site of some of the worst flooding.
Watts said a 60-year-old man was found Monday morning near another creek east of there.
There have been at least 10 deaths in South Carolina since the storms started last week, while there have been two storm-related deaths in North Carolina.
Sunday was the wettest day in the history of South Carolina’s capital city Columbia, according to the National Weather Service.
And the 16.6 inches of rain that fell on Gills Creek near downtown Columbia on Sunday was the rainiest day in one single spot in the U.S. in more than 16 years, among weather stations with more than 50 years of record-keeping.
John Shelton of the U.S. Geological Survey told the Associated Press the state has received six months’ worth of rain in two days.
From the Associated Press.
Update 6 p.m.
Concerns about Gills Creek rising again led Forest Acres authorities Monday to request evacuations of people from about 500 homes.
Dams upstream have burst. Forest Acres Police blocked off Forest Drive around the Trenholm Plaza as water starting rising in Gills Creek.
The area flooded in Sunday’s massive rains.
Forest Acres officials said the Spring Lake dam might fail and are watching two other dams upstream. The Forest Lake dam is fine, they said.
Update 4:24 p.m.
The breaking of three Columbia area dams — including the Overcreek Bridge dam around 3 p.m. Monday — had officials going house-to-house Monday afternoon urging people to get out of their houses immediately and seek higher ground.
Richland County Sheriff’s Department Lt. Curtis Wilson said evacuations downstream from the breached Overcreek Bridge dam are mandatory. Wilson said the Forest Acres Police Department are evacuating residents and they would be taken to emergency shelters nearby.
“We are now worried about the Forest Lake dam breaking,” said State Sen. Joel Lourie, D-Richland, who was directing traffic Monday afternoon at Lake Shore Drive and Forest Drive.
Downstream from the Forest Lake dam is the 157-acre Lake Katharine, which is already near, or at, full levels.
Lourie said Richland County sheriff’s deputies, Forest Acres and Columbia police are urging evacuations in the neighborhoods of East Shore, Lake Shore, West Shore and the Lake Katharine neighborhoods.
Hundreds of people live in those areas.
All the dams are part of a 70-mile network of dams, lakes and streams called the Gills Creek watershed, which eventually empties into the Congaree River.
Lourie represents that area and grew up in West Shore.
Update 3:20 p.m.
The Overcreek Bridge dam in Forest Acres has been breached, according to State Sen. Joel Lourie and a representative from Forest Acres Police Department who asked not to be identified.
The Forest Acres Police Department is working on a voluntary evacuation with residents in the homes downriver from the dam, said the representative, who asked her name not be shared because she didn’t have clearance to discuss those details with media.
The representative said the police are using a high-water truck from the National Guard to evacuate residents.
The dam is near Rockyford Lake and Forest Lake, and homeowners in the area should consider leaving, said Lourie, D-Richland.
“It’s going to unload about 22 acres of water when this happens,’’ Lourie said. “I’ve been working here for the past hour with the Forest Acres Police and the Richland County sheriff’s department.’’
Sammy Fretwell and Avery Wilks
Update: 2:30 p.m.
City of Columbia officials said there will be a mandatory curfew beginning at 7 p.m. on Monday that will end at 6 a.m. Tuesday morning.
City Manager Theresa Wilson said free water distribution sites will be located at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, located at 1101 Lincoln St., and the Walmart parking lot, located at 5424 Forest Drive. Lower Richland High School and Landmark Square, located on Garners Ferry Road.
Wilson said these water distribution centers will be open Monday from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and reopen again Tuesday at 8 a.m. and remain open until 6:30 p.m.
Update: 1 p.m.
The University of South Carolina has canceled all classes for the Columbia campus on Tuesday due to heavy rain and flooding in the area.
USC officials said the campus will remain open for faculty and staff.
University officials will continue to monitor the situation and its potential effects on university operations.
Update: 12:30 p.m.
A boil water advisory has been lifted for the city of West Columbia, according to city officials.
Mayor Joe Owens said all water customers in the area bordered by U.S. Highway 1 to the north, Watling Road to the west, Airport Boulevard to the south and I-26 to east no longer have to boil their water for cooking and drinking purposes.
Owens also said all water customers in the area bordered by the Saluda River to the north, I-26 to the west, Airport Boulevard and Cayce city limits to the south and the Congaree River to the east no longer have to boil their water for cooking and drinking purposes.
Update: 12 p.m.
The Columbia Police Department has announced several roadways have been reopened for travel. The following roadways in and out of the city are open as of 11:15 a.m.:
▪ I-20 East to Highway 1 in Lexington to Jarvis Klapman Boulevard
▪ I-20 East to Highway 378 in Lexington to Jarvis Klapman Boulevard
▪ I-20 West to I-77
▪ I-77 to Highway 277 to Bull Street
▪ I-77 is clear for travel
▪ I-20 at Broad River Road bridge has been opened for emergency vehicles only
▪ Outbound Highway 215 (Monticello Road) and Highway 321 (Fairfield Road) to Blythewood to I-77 and onto Highway 277
▪ Irmo I-26 East over Lake Murray dam to Lexington Highway 6 to I-20 East
▪ I-26 East to I-20 (follow South Carolina Highway Patrol directions)
▪ Richland County Sheriff’s Department officials said I-126 has been reopened to traffic.
Update: 11:30 a.m.
As the city of Columbia worked Monday to repair about a dozen breaks in water lines from the city center south to Lower Richland, it’s unclear how long it will take to restore safe water to all customers, the director of utilities said late Monday morning.
“I can’t say when this will end,” Joey Jaco said as some 50 city workers and private contractors scrambling to fix ruptured lines. “We hope to see (water) pressure improvements today. We already see better pressure in some areas.”
Major customers without water include the three downtown hospitals and the University of South Carolina, Jaco said.
Portions of USC had water pressure by 10:30 a.m., he said. Jaco said he did not know which portions had improved, nor did he have an estimate on how many customers altogether have been affected since about dawn Sunday when the deluge swamped flood-prone areas of Columbia. City Hall began issuing boilwater advisories throughout Sunday.
Most of the water line breaks happened in what the utility department considers the downtown district, Jaco said. That district stretches from the Main Street business district south under USC and into rural Lower Richland. Reports indicate that Lower Richland High School is among customers without water Monday.
Jaco said workers are still trying to find all the breaks. “We’re closing valves to help locate where the breaks are.”
Firefighters have been trucking water to the hospitals, Jaco and Lexington County administrator Joe Mergo said.
Update: 11 a.m.
The Kershaw County Coroner’s Office has identified the individual who died after being trapped in a vehicle following major flooding on the county’s roadways.
Coroner David West said 72-year-old McArthur Woods, of Lugoff, was pulled from his vehicle near Pine Grove Road Monday morning. Emeregency responders were able to rescue a woman who was with Woods Sunday evening, West said, but they could not get to him in time.
West said Woods’ vehicle became entrapped in flood waters after he drove around a barricade that was set in place.
Emergency officials are continuing to urge people to stay off of the roadways. If you must drive, make sure to obey all traffic signs and do not attempt to drive around barricades.
Update: 10:15 a.m.
Update: 10 a.m.
Water was restored to some parts of the University of South Carolina’s campus, at least temporarily, according to a news release.
A boil water advisory is still in effect for campus and the City of Columbia.
Bottled water is being delivered to Russell House and Bates West and students can pick it up from those locations.
Port-a-potties were placed outside University of South Carolina residence halls, at the Russell House student union and in Greek Village, according to the Student Affairs Twitter page Monday morning.
Update: 9 a.m.
Kershaw County-area emergency responders have reported the seventh flood-related death.
Christ Denkins, a Kershaw County Emergency Management coordinator, said Lugoff and Camden firefighters along with Kershaw County sheriff’s deputies, Kershaw County EMS and Lancaster County swift water rescue teams recovered a body near Pine Grove Road Sunday evening. Emergency responders were also able to rescue one.
Denkins said U.S. 521 and U.S. 601 continue to remain closed to traffic, and people are urged to stay off the roadways.
Update: 8:45 a.m.
Columbia-area residents hunted for water Monday morning after outages, low pressure and boil water advisories city-wide.
Many stores were closed Monday morning, including the Walmart and Target stores on Garners Ferry Road.
At the Big Lots, where water was on display in the window, a line of about two dozen people waited for the store to open.
South Carolina Department of Transportation officials said there are now 389 roads and 158 bridges throughout the state that have been closed.
Emergency response officials continue to urge to stay off the roadways and remain in safe areas.
Update: 8:30 a.m.
Port-a-potties were placed outside University of South Carolina residence halls, at the Russell House student union and in Greek Village, according to the Student Affairs Twitter page Monday morning.
City-wide there was a boil water advisory in effect and many water lines broke, resulting in significant outages, including the university campus, and loss of pressure.
A bottled water delivery is expected Monday and the university is in touch with city officials about restoring water service to campus, said spokesman Jeff Stensland.
“As we work to resolve this situation, it is important that students stay off the roads and obey the city curfew,” Stensland said, adding “We are fortunate that our residence halls are on high ground and have not sustained any serious damage. Please stay inside and stay safe.”
Update: 8:15 a.m.
Apparently, Lexington County’s 12-hour, overnight curfew had its intended effect, county administrator Joe Mergo said.
No more water rescues occurred other than the one reported from the Pine Glen neighborhood early Sunday night, he said.
“In unincorporated Lexington County, the sheriff’s department felt the curfew went well and kept people off the roads,” Mergo said.
Deputies handled one vehicle collision, he said, adding he does not know how many calls the South Carolina Highway Patrol responded to.
The county sent three water tankers to help Columbia’s Palmetto Health Baptist hospital fill its chillers, Mergo said.
Columbia City Hall has issued boil water advisories as a result of floodwater damage.
The opening of a stretch of S.C. 378 overnight has made access easier to Lexington Medical Center along a major thoroughfare, Mergo said.
Update: 8 a.m.
Law enforcement and military agencies will be conducting search and rescue missions throughout Richland County and Columbia Monday morning, according to Richland County Sheriff’s Department officials.
Lt. Curtis Wilson said the sheriff’s department met with Columbia fire and police, South Carolina Law Enforcement Division agents, Department of Natural Resources officers and military assets at the Columbia Fire Department Monday morning to discuss the plans.
Wilson said the search and rescues will be conducted by ground and boats. First responders will be going door to door in various neighborhoods in the most severely hit areas.
Those who are in need of transport and assistance will be taken to local shelters for safety, Wilson said. Although this is not a mandatory evacuation, Wilson said, emergency response agencies recommended those affected by the flooding to evacuate severely hit areas.
UPDATE: 7:50 a.m.
More than 1,300 S.C. National Guard troops were helping rescue and recovery missions Monday morning, according to the Guard’s Twitter page.
Those missions include assisting evacuations, transporting sandbags and assisting counties.
Troops were also ready to help engineers with debris removal and downed trees.
UPDATE: 7:30 a.m.
More than 25,000 users were without power early Monday as utility power crews continued to fight the ravages of historic rainfalls over the state which have toppled trees and power lines.
South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. reported nearly 14,000 customers without power across the state and Duke Energy reported nearly 12,000 customers powerless.
Richland County appeared to be the hardest hit with about 7,500 customers without power, while Lexington County reported nearly 4,400 customers without power.
SCE&G reported power outages in Charleston, with 284 in the dark, Newberry, where 928 customers had no power, and Abbeville and McCormick.
Duke Energy, which serves customers in South Carolina in the Upstate and Pee Dee, had power outages scattered throughout its service areas, including in Anderson County, Greenville and Spartanburg, Greenwood, Rembert and several other areas.
In addition to the outages, power crews are also fighting closed roads and flooded regions, which make repairs both dangerous and slow, if not impossible, and lack of street lighting in some cases at nightfall.
UPDATE: 7:25 a.m.
South Carolina Emergency Management Division spokesman John Ward said Monday morning that no hospitals are being evacuated at this time.
UPDATE: 7:23 a.m.
Rescuers in boats evacuated 87 people, many of whom are elderly, from a subdivision off Bush River Road starting around 8:30 last night, officials said.
A rising Saluda River, fueled by floodgate releases from the Lake Murray dam, pushed chest deep water into flood prone Pine Glen subdivision, said Lexington County administrator Joe Mergo.
Some of the evacuees were children, he said. Many families had pets.
No one was injured, Mergo said. The residents were taken by bus to either nearby Seven Oaks Park, which had been deemed a temporary shelter, or to White Knoll High School, the second of the county’s three designated flooding shelters.
The high school is the only temporary shelter that won’t accept pets.
Nine Pine Glen residents chose to remain in their homes, Mergo said.
UPDATE: 6:45 a.m.
Rain, flooding and power outages could continue on Monday with rain and wind in the forecast.
“It looks like it’s going to be continually more rain today,” said Jeff Linton, a forecaster with the National Weather Service.
But he added there will likely be less heavy rain and light to moderate amounts.
Between 1 to 2 additional inches of rain are expected Monday.
Because the ground is already saturated, the Weather Service has continued a flash flood watch through noon Monday, Linton said. There is also a threat that earthen pond dams could break he said.
A wind advisory is also in place with gusts between 20 and 30 miles per hour. Trees have been stressed so they could break onto power lines and cause power to go out, Linton said.
On the bright side, the sun will come out tomorrow.
UPDATE: 6:30 a.m.
S.C. Department of Transportation had closed additional parts of interstates early Monday.
Roads closed included:
▪ Interstate 20 eastbound between Interstate 26 westbound to Spartanburg and exit 68.
▪ Interstate 126 eastbound between U.S. 21, 76, 176, and 321 and Interstate 26.
▪ The right exit ramp is closed on Interstate 26 eastbound at exit 107A, Interstate 20 westbound to Augusta
UPDATE: 11:56 p.m.
Close to midnight Sunday, state emergency officials were discussing contingency plans for moving patients from area hospitals that get water from the city, should the hospitals need to be evacuated, a S.C. Emergency Management Division spokesman said.
Palmetto Health, on its FaceBook page, said it was “following its emergency plan to address this situation, including using all of our resources such as emergency water supply, water conservation, as well as patient transfer to another facility as needed.”
The city of Columbia reported that many customers’ water service was not working, especially in the downtown and southeast Richland County areas. The outage could last three to four days. The city plans to update residents at noon Monday.
UPDATE 11:00 p.m.
Columbia’s police and fire departments, the Richland County Sheriff’s Department and the S.C. Law Enforcement Division will begin search and rescue efforts Monday morning for residents who need to be evacuated.
Any residents in need of rescue should call 9-1-1 and provide dispatchers with their address and a description of their homes and where rescuers will find them.
Crews also will conduct welfare checks and assess the stability of buildings, homes and other structures that have been damaged by the floods, marking them with a bright orange “X” after they have been checked, the law enforcement agencies said late Sunday.
Residents who want to evacuate their homes will be taken out of the flood zone in military vehicles and driven by bus to an area shelter. The evacuation is voluntary, but “not leaving a location can create a dangerous situation for citizens and first responders,” the agencies said.
Residents should pack an overnight bag with essential items such as vital prescriptions. Only caged pets will be allowed to come with residents to a shelter.
UPDATE 10:40 p.m.
By Sunday night, eight counties or municipalities -- including Columbia and Richland and Lexington counties -- had mandatory overnight curfews, state emergency officials said.
The Highway Patrol has 255 troopers on duty and others on standby. The S.C. State Law Enforcement Division had 320 agents working or waiting to help with the response. The state also has eight swift-water rescue teams ready to assist and more coming from other states.
The Highway Patrol reported 215 collisions, 239 calls for assistance, 273 reports of trees on the road and 318 reports of roadway flooding from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Interstate 95, between I-20 in Florence and I-26 in Orangeburg, has been closed.
Lexington County evacuation
Lexington County has issued a voluntary evacuation of all locations within a quarter mile of the banks of the Saluda and Congaree rivers. There are three shelters open in Lexington County: the Lexington Leisure Center, Seven Oaks Park, and White Knoll High School (no pets). There are more than 70 road closures in the county, a sheriff’s office spokesman said.
Kershaw County shelter - no takers
Kershaw County has a shelter open, but had no one staying in it as of about 10 p.m., said Gene Faulkenberry, the county’s emergency management director. Roughly 65 roads have been closed and ponds have been breached throughout the county, he said. The Kershaw, Lugoff, Pine Grove, Elgin and Doby’s Mill areas were the hardest hit, he said.
UPDATE 10:00 p.m.
Three Richland County fatalities blamed on water
Richland County coroner Gary Watts said late Sunday night that the three water-related deaths were all in the Columbia area, and all involved people who were trapped in their vehicles in rising water on Sunday.
One of the victims was a young woman who died on Sunset Drive in north Columbia, Watts said. Of the other two fatalities, one was Devine Street in the vicinity of Fort Jackson Boulevard, and the other on Garners Ferry Road, Watts said. He added that more details will be available on Monday.
By John Monk
UPDATE 9:40 p.m.
The city of Sumter issued a city-wide boil water advisory Sunday night after noticing that the city “is starting to experience some major issues with our potable (drinking) water system.”
Residents were urged to call city offices (at 803-436-2558) if they are experiencing water issues. Everyone was urged to boil their drinking, cooking and icemaking water for a full 60 seconds before use until told otherwise.
A timeline for a fix would not be possible until flood level recede, the city said.
UPDATE 8:41 p.m.
Richland County police Lt. Curtis Wilson confirmed that there have been two weather-related deaths in Richland County.
A woman, whose SUV was washed off Sunset Drive in Columbia, appears to be the city’s first fatality of the Sunday deluge.
Richland County Coroner Gary Watts said authorities were able to retrieve the woman’s body from her car in midafternoon.
A second fatality occurred on Devine Street but no other details were available, Wilson said.
UPDATE 8:13 p.m.
Some in Columbia may be without water 3-4 days
The City of Columbia says it is aware that many residents are without water in an outage that could last for three to four days.
The outages are affecting customers in downtown Columbia and southeast Richland County the most, according to a city news release sent out Sunday evening.
The city is working to repair water mains damaged in the flood and restore customers’ water service, the release said.
The city will provide an update at noon Monday.
City of Columbia residents whose water is shut off should email the city at email@example.com