Gov. Nikki Haley says the recovery focus post-Hurricane Matthew is now on South Carolina’s inland areas susceptible to flooding, particularly in the Pee Dee and Lowcountry regions.
“What we are finding out now is not only did we just deal with a hurricane, but we are now dealing with a flood,” Haley told reporters in a Tuesday noon briefing, noting that parts of Marion County are under four feet of water. “Expect those things to continue over the next 1-2 weeks.”
Flood monitoring continues at several locations, including the Great Pee Dee River at I-95 northeast of Florence and the Little Pee Dee River at Galivants Ferry. Department of Natural Resources Director Alvin Taylor said flooding on those rivers will likely crest in the next two days, but he said the slower-moving Waccamaw River will not crest for another 7-10 days.
“Right now, we’re mainly concerned and our efforts are being focused on first the Little Pee Dee River from the Nichols area all the way down to the Great Pee Dee,” Taylor told reporters. “Once you leave Nichols, there are a number of small communities along that river basin. We have officers in the river now… we’re going door-to-door, making sure who’s there, who’s not there.”
About 150 residents were evacuated from Nichols on Monday after floodwater levels trapped them in the town hall. Taylor said DNR and National Guard troops used boats and high-water vehicles to rescue those residents.
DNR has performed an estimated 205 rescues since Hurricane Matthew struck the state, Haley said. That included 30 pets and 5 goats, she noted.
Taylor said rescue crews are still running into problems with “sightseers” who are trying to get a look at flood damage themselves. “Don’t do it. Our officers are going to be asking these boaters to leave,” he said. “They need to understand those (boat) wakes cause tremendous damage to those homes that are flooded. And all of our residents have too much to worry about now than for a boater to come through and throw a large wave into their home.”
The governor said state officials are still only aware of three deaths at this time. However, local media reported a fourth individual in Dillon County died during an accident while cleaning up debris. The county coroner said the Lake View man had been cutting limbs from a downed phone line, when the cable suddenly snapped and hit him in the head. The coroner had not yet identified the victim, pending notification of his family.
Fripp, Harbor, Hilton Head, and Hunting islands still closed. However, Hilton Head mayor David Bennett has said traffic will be allowed back into the city on a limited basis starting at 3 p.m. Tuesday.
Interstate 95 is closed in North Carolina not far from the border with South Carolina. In the Palmetto State, the Department of Transportation said there are 434 road closures due to flooding or downed trees, including 27 bridges and 92 primary highways. Three of those bridges were damaged, according to SCDOT Secretary Christy Hall. They include the U.S. 21 Harbor Island drawbridge in Beaufort County and two more bridges in Florence County.
Hall said the two Florence County bridges, which are SC Highway 41 and secondary Route 13, will not be able to be repaired until flood levels drop. She said crews are working to fix the Harbor Island bridge before turning it back over to county officials. More than 1,500 SCDOT maintenance employees are responding to the disaster, which Hall said is 100 more than Monday.
More than 105,000 people remain under a boil water advisory among the five systems affected, according to the state Department of Health and Environmental Control. State officials say more than 290,000 customers are still without power. Horry County has the most affected customers, followed by Beaufort and Florence counties.
DHEC Director Catherine Heigel said 13 dams have failed in the storm’s aftermath: nine regulated and four unregulated. Five of those dams are in Dillon County, including the Little Pee Dee State Park centerpiece pond Lake Norton. The Country Club of South Carolina also had a dam fail. DHEC said 12 of the 13 dams are in eastern South Carolina. One exception is a West Columbia neighborhood dam that breached on Saturday.
Haley said Highway Patrol data reported 379 car collisions within the past 24 hours in South Carolina.
Gov. Haley encouraged those who want to volunteer with cleanup efforts to call 1-888-585-9643 or log on to volunteerSC.org. Those who wish to donate are encouraged to do so financially at the One SC Fund, which was created in the aftermath of last year’s flooding and is operated by the Central Carolina Community Foundation.