At Least Nine Dead in South Carolina, Dams Break

News ID: 880875 Service: Other Media
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TEHRAN (Tasnim) – South Carolina continued to face life-threatening flooding, as overloaded earthen dams collapsed along a chain of small lakes and sent more water into the saturated Midlands region of the state.

Historic rains diminished late Monday after dumping more than 20 inches of rain in three days in the central part of the state, according to the National Weather Service.

But officials warned that treacherous conditions could persist for days after at least nine earthen dams broke, many bridges flooded and large sections of roadway collapsed. Neighborhoods near several lakes were evacuated late Monday.

“It’s devastating what we’re seeing,” said Robert Yanity, spokesman with the South Carolina Emergency Management Division.

While Hurricane Joaquin never reached land in the US, moisture from the back side of the storm combined with other systems to dump the equivalent of several months of rain on central and coastal South Carolina in less than three days.

Since the storms started last week, there have been at least nine deaths in South Carolina, including several people found dead in flooded vehicles, according to public officials. There were also two storm-related deaths in North Carolina.

“We can’t let our guard down; conditions are still dangerous out there,” said South Carolina Department of Public Safety Director Leroy Smith, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Officials sought Monday to begin assessing the damage, flying over flooded neighborhoods and going door to door checking on residents in the capital city of Columbia.

Many roads remained closed, thousands of people were without water, and lingering floodwater moved down the state, swelling rivers and threatening more overflows, state officials said.

“South Carolina has gone through a storm of historic proportions,” Gov. Nikki Haley said, adding that she was seeking a federal disaster declaration for 11 counties to help secure funds for what is likely to be a long and costly cleanup.

President Barack Obama has signed the major disaster declaration for several counties in South Carolina, a Federal Emergency Management Agency spokesman said Monday night. The declaration will provide additional federal resources to the counties.

About 26,000 people were without power and 40,000 were without water Monday; with many stores closed, officials were starting to set up water-distribution sites around the state. Some 550 roads and bridges were closed, 100 of them in the area of Columbia, the state’s capital. Search-and-rescue teams made more than 200 “swift water” rescues.

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