Rain initially moved into the Carolinas late last week and intensified heading into the weekend with a few of the heaviest and most widespread rain falling on Saturday.
“The flooding is unprecedented and historical”, said Dr. Marshall Shepherd, a meteorologist and director of the atmospheric sciences program at the University of Georgia, in an email to The Associated Press.
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 powerful rainstorm dumped more than a foot of rain overnight on Columbia, swamping hundreds of businesses and homes.
Around midday Sunday, flooding was also reported in the Myrtle Beach area.
The downtown Charleston peninsula, which includes the city’s historic district, has been reopened on a limited basis for residents and business owners after it was closed to incoming traffic Saturday.
At one point Mr Watts had to use a tree branch to secure himself as he made his way toward the stranded truck. A helicopter crew rescued dozens more, the governor said. “We are well aware with a slight turn of the system; it could have been us needing help”. At one dam near Greenville in the western part of the state, water was flowing through the spillway at more than a thousand times the normal rate.
The mid-Atlantic region was also affected by flooded roads and power outages were reported in several states. Many recovery tasks lay ahead.
Numerous roads and bridges around the state were washed out or under water. All roads and bridges will have to be checked for structural integrity, which could take weeks or longer.
“It’s really that area around the river that continues to expand, continues to cut roads off, is what we’re really concerned about”, he said.
Sunday was the wettest day in the history of the state’s capital city, Columbia, the weather service said.
One of the most pressing issues is clean drinking water.
“You do anything you can to help people”, Beitz said.
About 26,000 South Carolinians did not have electricity and 40,000 had no drinking water, Governor Nikki Haley told reporters on Monday on the outskirts of the capital Columbia, which has been especially hard hit.
Rescue crews used boats on Sunday to evacuate the family of Jeff Whalen, whose house backs up on Gills Creek. “What I got on my body is what we have”, she told CNN affiliate WIS-TV. “It came quickly obviously”.
Hall warned the driving public to stay off flooded roads, saying, “The average vehicle can be swept away in as a little as 12 inches of moving water and stalled out in as little as two feet of water”. Gov. Haley said there will be 10 water distribution sites operable in the next day or so.
“This was a record storm“, he said.
At least seven deaths in the area are being blamed on the severe weather.
Animals displaced by the storm – like alligators – are now in the water that many residents are trying to outrace.
At least nine people have died in South Carolina from this recent storm. “Everything is underwater. We didn’t get time to do nothing”, said Patricia Harde, 48, who fled with her two adult daughters and their four small children, including a baby of four months, to a school-turned-shelter.