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Friday 30 September 2016

Hurricane Joaquin : South Carolina flooding death toll rises to 15

Colleen Jenkins

Published 07/10/2015 | 06:45

Ammie McKnight watches the level of floodwaters in the front yard of her Orange Street home in Georgetown, South Carolina October 4, 2015. Most major roads through the historical South Carolina city have closed due to flooding. Vast swaths of U.S. Southeast and mid-Atlantic states were grappling with heavy rains and flooding from a separate weather system which has already caused at least five deaths, washed out roads and prompted evacuations and flash flood warnings. REUTERS/Randall Hill
Ammie McKnight watches the level of floodwaters in the front yard of her Orange Street home in Georgetown, South Carolina October 4, 2015. Most major roads through the historical South Carolina city have closed due to flooding. Vast swaths of U.S. Southeast and mid-Atlantic states were grappling with heavy rains and flooding from a separate weather system which has already caused at least five deaths, washed out roads and prompted evacuations and flash flood warnings. REUTERS/Randall Hill
Floodwaters surround a house along Orange Street in Georgetown, South Carolina October 4, 2015. Most major roads through the historical South Carolina city have closed due to flooding. Vast swaths of U.S. Southeast and mid-Atlantic states were grappling with heavy rains and flooding from a separate weather system which has already caused at least five deaths, washed out roads and prompted evacuations and flash flood warnings. REUTERS/Randall Hill
A car and a utility vehicle navigate Orange Street in Georgetown, South Carolina October 4, 2015. Most major roads through the historical South Carolina city have closed due to flooding. Vast swaths of U.S. Southeast and mid-Atlantic states were grappling with heavy rains and flooding from a separate weather system which has already caused at least five deaths, washed out roads and prompted evacuations and flash flood warnings. REUTERS/Randall Hill
A car is stalled due to heavy rains, along flooded US 17 in Georgetown, South Carolina October 4, 2015. Most major roads through the historical South Carolina city have closed due to flooding. Vast swaths of U.S. Southeast and mid-Atlantic states were grappling with heavy rains and flooding from a separate weather system which has already caused at least five deaths, washed out roads and prompted evacuations and flash flood warnings. REUTERS/Randall Hill
A resident along Orange Street watches the level of flood waters in Georgetown, South Carolina October 4, 2015. Most major roads through the historical South Carolina city have closed due to flooding. Vast swaths of U.S. Southeast and mid-Atlantic states were grappling with heavy rains and flooding from a separate weather system which has already caused at least five deaths, washed out roads and prompted evacuations and flash flood warnings. REUTERS/Randall Hill
A resident along Orange Street watches the level of floodwaters in Georgetown, South Carolina October 4, 2015. Most major roads through the historical South Carolina city have closed due to flooding. Vast swaths of U.S. Southeast and mid-Atlantic states were grappling with heavy rains and flooding from a separate weather system which has already caused at least five deaths, washed out roads and prompted evacuations and flash flood warnings. REUTERS/Randall Hill
A view shows floodwaters partially submerging Orange Street in Georgetown, South Carolina October 4, 2015. Most major roads through the historical South Carolina city have closed due to flooding. Vast swaths of U.S. Southeast and mid-Atlantic states were grappling with heavy rains and flooding from a separate weather system which has already caused at least five deaths, washed out roads and prompted evacuations and flash flood warnings. REUTERS/Randall Hill
Ammie McKnight watches the level of floodwaters in the front yard of her Orange Street home in Georgetown, South Carolina October 4, 2015. Most major roads through the historical South Carolina city have closed due to flooding. Vast swaths of U.S. Southeast and mid-Atlantic states were grappling with heavy rains and flooding from a separate weather system which has already caused at least five deaths, washed out roads and prompted evacuations and flash flood warnings. REUTERS/Randall Hill
A large cargo vehicle travels down US 17 in Georgetown, South Carolina October 4, 2015. Most major roads through the historical South Carolina city have closed due to flooding. Vast swaths of U.S. Southeast and mid-Atlantic states were grappling with heavy rains and flooding from a separate weather system which has already caused at least five deaths, washed out roads and prompted evacuations and flash flood warnings. REUTERS/Randall Hill
A Georgetown police officer directs traffic into Georgetown, South Carolina October 4, 2015. Most major roads through the historical South Carolina city have closed due to flooding. Vast swaths of U.S. Southeast and mid-Atlantic states were grappling with heavy rains and flooding from a separate weather system which has already caused at least five deaths, washed out roads and prompted evacuations and flash flood warnings. REUTERS/Randall Hill
Whitney Pond and her sisters check out the flooding along Orange Street in Georgetown, South Carolina October 4, 2015. Most major roads through the historical South Carolina city have closed due to flooding. Vast swaths of U.S. Southeast and mid-Atlantic states were grappling with heavy rains and flooding from a separate weather system which has already caused at least five deaths, washed out roads and prompted evacuations and flash flood warnings. REUTERS/Randall Hill
Clare Reigard of Georgetown, South Carolina, abandons her car after it stalled on Duke Street due to heavy rains in Georgetown, South Carolina October 4, 2015. Most major roads through the historical South Carolina city have closed due to flooding. Vast swaths of U.S. Southeast and mid-Atlantic states were grappling with heavy rains and flooding from a separate weather system which has already caused at least five deaths, washed out roads and prompted evacuations and flash flood warnings. REUTERS/Randall Hill
A downtown business is lined with sandbags for possible floods in downtown Georgetown, South Carolina October 4, 2015. Most major roads through the historical South Carolina city have closed due to flooding. Vast swaths of U.S. Southeast and mid-Atlantic states were grappling with heavy rains and flooding from a separate weather system which has already caused at least five deaths, washed out roads and prompted evacuations and flash flood warnings. REUTERS/Randall Hill

South Carolina grappled with the damage wrought by record rainfall, as the death toll from widespread flooding rose to 15 on Tuesday and residents braced for more evacuations in areas near dams and swollen waterways across the state.

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Predictions of sunny skies in coming days provided only small comfort. More than 800 people were living in shelters after floodwater forced them from their homes, and officials said new evacuations were likely as several rivers remained above flood stage and dams were being monitored for breaches.

"We are still in the mode that the next 36 to 48 hours will be volatile," Governor Nikki Haley told a news conference. "Don't let the sunshine fool you."

Officials said about 300 state-maintained roads and 160 bridges remained closed. Eleven dams in the southeastern state have failed, the state Emergency Management Division said.

Haley said she could not yet estimate the cost of the devastation but noted "the damage is going to be heartbreaking for a lot of people."

More than 2 feet (60 cm) of rain have fallen since Friday in parts of South Carolina. The state avoided a hit from Hurricane Joaquin but experienced historic rainfall and flooding due to a combination of weather mostly unrelated to that storm.

Of the 15 people who died, nine drowned and six were killed in weather-related car crashes, the emergency agency said. The extended rainstorm also was blamed for two deaths in North Carolina.

In the South Carolina capital of Columbia, which experienced its wettest days on record over the weekend, the University of South Carolina canceled classes through Friday.

Though floodwater was receding in some places, officials warned people to remain vigilant. Early on Tuesday, emergency responders in Orangeburg County pulled three people to safety in a boat after they were surrounded by rushing water from the North Edisto River, the State newspaper reported.

The highest recorded amount of rain in South Carolina was 26.8 inches (68 cm), which fell over several days in an area just east of Charleston, National Weather Service meteorologist Carl Barnes said.

"The worst has passed us, in terms of rainfall," he said. "We'll definitely have sun and some very welcome drying out for the rest of the week."  

Reuters

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