After days of heavy rains that caused flooding across much of South Carolina, residents of the Lowcountry were warned that the floodwaters were coming their way. Residents near the coast were sandbagging around houses, businesses, and tourist attractions to prepare for the flooding.
According to the South Carolina Emergency Management Division, over 250 roads and at least 100 bridges were closed as of the morning of October 8. The death toll from the flooding stood at 17. Electricity had been restored to all but approximately 200 customers.
Most of the rain has ended, but flooding is still possible. Meteorologists say rivers might not crest for weeks. After the water recedes, officials will have to assess the damage and rebuild. Senator Lindsey Graham predicted that the cost of the flooding could exceed $1 billion.
On Wednesday, October 7, officials in Williamsburg County asked some residents south of the Black and Santee Rivers to evacuate as the rivers overflowed their banks. Officials hope that controlled dam releases will help alleviate flooding. Governor Nikki Haley said the state is monitoring 62 of the thousands of dams in South Carolina. Thirteen of the dams have failed.
The rain has set records all over South Carolina and flooded entire towns. In some locations, it qualifies as a 1,000-year rain event. That means that in a given year there is a 1 in 1,000 chance of observing rains of this magnitude.
President Barack Obama has signed a disaster declaration for the state and ordered federal aid to supplement state, tribal, and local efforts. Federal funding will be available for Charleston, Dorchester, Georgetown, Horry, Lexington, Orangeburg, Richland, and Williamsburg Counties. The assistance can take the form of grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs.
Classes at the University of South Carolina have been canceled for the rest of the week because of the flooding. Parts of Columbia and the USC campus have lost access to running water. Officials have been collecting bottled water from around the state. A football game between USC and Louisiana State University that was supposed to be played in Columbia on Saturday will instead take place in Baton Rouge.
The city of Columbia partially repealed a system-wide boil water advisory on Wednesday evening, but many customers are still under the advisory. Advisories may remain in place for an extended period of time.