Storm killed at least 10 people in South Carolina and two in North Carolina as officials warn that rivers have yet to crest and further flooding may occur
The massive “ once-in-a-millennium ” storm that struck the Carolinas and is responsible for at least 12 deaths in the south-eastern US has come to an end, leaving the state to take stock of the devastation.
After a week of steady downpours, South Carolina residents are now facing the prospect of going days without running water, waterlogged dams overflowing, bridges collapsing, flood waters continuing to rise and looting.
Tuesday was the first completely dry day in Columbia, South Carolina’s capital, since 24 September, but officials warned that new evacuations could be ordered as the huge mass of water flows toward the sea, threatening dams and displacing residents along the way.
“God smiled on South Carolina because the sun is out. That is a good sign, but … we still have to be cautious,” South Carolina governor Nikki Haley said Tuesday. “We are going to be extremely careful. We are watching this minute by minute.”
According to CNN meteorologist Chad Myers, the flooding is not over, as rivers might not crest for another two weeks.
“This is a Hugo-level event,” major general Robert Livingston, head of the South Carolina National Guard, said on Monday, referring to the September 1989 hurricane that devastated Charleston. “We didn’t see this level of erosion in Hugo … This water doesn’t fool around.”
The storm hit both Carolinas, killing at least 10 people in South Carolina and two in North Carolina, and forcing about 1,000people into shelters. Roughly 40,000 residents have been left without drinkable water. Some 550 roads and bridges remained closed on Monday, including nearly 75 miles of Interstate 95, the main link from the south-east US to the north-east. The governor said these will need close inspection to ensure they’re safe.
Having been forced to evacuate, some people returned this week to find their homes had been looted. Pamela Courts, a resident of the Willow Creek apartments, returned to her apartment on Monday to find signs of theft, according to WACH .
“Overnight, we had a break-in, so whatever was upstairs they came and took: TVs jewelry, everything,” she said.
Another resident, Juamaame Evins, told WACH that he was trying to stay positive.
“Even though we lost everything and stuff got stolen, we can rebuild together and help each other and be each other’s backbones and carry each other through this time because we need each other,” he said.
Some towns were entirely cut off. About 60 miles south-east of the capital Columbia, all four roads leading into the county seat of Manning were closed, isolating 4,000 people. Many smaller communities in Clarendon County are in a similar predicament, sheriff Randy Garrett told the Associated Press.
“I’m the sheriff of a bunch of islands,” he said.
Safe drinking water was in short supply: in Columbia, firefighters used a half-dozen trucks and pumps to ferry hundreds of thousands of gallons of water to Palmetto Health Baptist hospital.
After days of intermittent electricity, thousands of residents throughout South Carolina have seen their power restored . While there were more than 25,000 outages as of Monday morning, South Carolina Electric and Gas said that less than 1,000 customers were without power by early Tuesday. Duke Energy said that only “a handful” of its customers were without power.
On Monday, the mayor of Columbia, Steve Benjamin, tweeted : “Our recovery will not be quick or easy. It will take a lot of hard work for weeks and months. But we’ll recover. And we’ll do it together.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2015