As rivers swell, South Carolina governor urges residents 'to stay home'

Hurricane Joaquin continues to invite rainfall along the South Carolina coast, causing rivers to swell and roads to flood. 

Mic Smith/AP
Residents look down Mayfield St. as the Ashley river floodwaters rise in the Ashborough subdivision near Summerville, S.C., Tuesday. Residents are concerned that the Ashley river will continue to rise as floodwaters come down from Columbia.

While South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said the recent sunshine was a good sign, residents along South Carolina’s coast should expect a second round of flooding as the rivers swell.

South Carolina residents, including Governor Haley, are worried that the Black and Waccamaw Rivers will continue to flood.

And the combination of rainfall and swelling continues to be damaging.

“We had so much rain but the primary thing we were experiencing was the water table coming up through the bottom bubbling up from beneath the flooring,” Georgetown County resident Scott Youngblood told the Associated Press. “We had quite a bit of damage.”

The Black River broke a 1973 flood record in Kingstree Tuesday by more than three feet, after reaching 10 feet above flood stage.

“We are going to be extremely careful,” Haley told the Associated Press. “We are watching this minute by minute.” She said more evacuations along the coast may still be necessary.

In Effingham, 80 miles east of Columbia, Scott Goodwin and his wife left their home on the river’s bank last weekend, assuming they were being overly cautious.

Mr. Goodwin told the Associated Press they never expected the nearby Lynches River to rise as much as it has, almost five feet above flood stage as of Tuesday, and he has now assumed that his home and all his belongings are a total loss.

The storm has killed 15 people in South Carolina and two in North Carolina. Some 800 people are living between two dozen shelters, and Haley expects this number to rise.

Authorities were called out to Lower Richland County around 3 a.m. on Wednesday, after two people went missing. Their pickup truck drove around flood-warning barricades and got stuck. Three people managed to escape the truck safely but emergency crews continue to search for two other passengers. 

Haley continues to ask South Carolina residents to heed traffic warnings.

“We’ll do our part, but this is really about the citizens of South Carolina,” she said. “Don’t go out in it. Stay home.”

The South Carolina Department of Transportation partially reopened portions of Interstate 95 on Tuesday, but more than 200 engineers continue to inspect over 470 locations. 

Ironically, finding safe drinking water has been a challenge. Although some service was restored Tuesday in the area around Columbia, around 40,000 homes still lacked drinking water. Mayor of Columbia Steve Benjamin said 375,000 residents will likely have to boil their water “for quite some time” before consuming. 

This report contains material from the Associated Press.

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