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“Don’t ever say South Carolina is not resilient”: Governor Haley, Tuesday Afternoon

October 11, 2016 - Posted in Palmetto Scene by Kaitlyn Park

“The sun is shining and that is a blessing.” Governor Nikki Haley said in a press conference at South Carolina’s Emergency Management Division just after noon on Tuesday, Oct. 11.

Governor Haley stated that as rivers start to flow and as waters move, what was a hurricane situation is now becoming a flood situation in South Carolina. Marion County, for example, is currently under four feet of water. This situation in several areas of the state could last for at least the next week.

Emergency teams are currently preparing and prepositioning in anticipation of flooding, and working to inform affected communities of what is coming and how they can stay safe. Should you have any questions related to flooding and if you are in an area that is at-risk, you can call the state tips line at 1-888-246-0133. The line has already received 15,000 calls over the course of this weather event.

Fripp, Hunting, Harbor and Hilton Head Islands remain closed. However, Mayor Bennett of Hilton Head Island has declared that the block of roads onto the island will be lifted at 3 p.m. today

Damage assessments are being performed by FEMA over the next few days. The state will be working with them to perform these assessments.

The total number of fatalities during and after Hurricane Matthew remains at three.

Highway Patrol has received 4,345 calls at this time, with 1,695 of those calls relating to traffic incidents. The Patrol continues to assist utility workers as they travel to affected areas, with patrolmen also assisting at traffic points. Interstate 95 just north of the South Carolina border is closed, and patrolmen have created an alternative route for drivers to use. Haley offered thanks to law enforcement and DPS for their work.

There are currently 1500 S.C. Department of Transportation maintenance workers on site, 100 more than yesterday. Secretary Hall relayed that all interstates in South Carolina are currently open. Only 92 primary routes across the state are closed, and most of these are due to flooding in the Pee Dee area, with a few other instances of fallen trees on power lines. There are 315 secondary roads that remain closed, often smaller routes that lead into neighborhoods or communities. Twenty-seven bridges are also closed, with three damaged. Assessments will be completed as flooded waters recede. Secretary Hall reminded travelers to practice safety, and not to pass barricades or flooded roads. If you need assistance in planning your travel routes, call 1-855-GO-SCDOT.

Chief Keel of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) stated that his teams and the National Guard are still performing security measures in Colleton County, Horry County, Florence County and Edisto Beach. In Ridgeland they are providing security for traffic points, food distribution centers and shelters. There are similar efforts in security and traffic management in Georgetown County. Beaufort County has 16 staffed security zones, with plans to demobilize as power is restored. They are also working with S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to perform water patrol in the Little Pee Dee and the Waccamaw Rivers. Aerial assets have also been deployed. This monitoring and rescue will continue day and night until floodwaters recede.

It is believed that DNR has 109 deployed officers who have completed 205 rescues at this time, with 30 pets, including five goats rescued yesterday.

Director Taylor with DNR said that their efforts will mainly be focused on the Little Pee Dee River from Nichols running to the Great Pee Dee, as well as the Waccamaw River in the Conway area. They will be working with SLED going door-to-door to see who is and is not in there homes, notifying residents that are left that they will need to create an evacuation plan and will even offer residents the opportuity to climb on-board state vessels.

It is expected the Pee Dee River will crest in the next 24-48 hours, and the Waccamaw River will crest in the next seven to ten days. Though it may appear that after cresting the areas are safe, water recession is a slow process, and it will take some time before operations return to normal. Director Taylor advised that residents who are still in these areas have time, but evacuation arrangements are necessary. He also asked again that sightseers stay out of flooded areas, and those in boats will be asked to leave by patrolling officers. Wakes from boats can cause further damage to flooded homes.

General Livingston from the National Guard reported there are 50 high-water vehicles currently deployed, but that number will rise to 75 in coming days. They have aided in 400 rescues with help from other agencies. They are working to remove sand from the roads on Edisto Beach, and in Clarendon County and Pawley’s Island, as needed. They are also assisting to providing clean water to hospitals in Florence County, where there is low water pressure ,due to broken pipes.

There are 17 shelters still open with 708 residents. This number will most likely go up as flooding occurs. Superintendent of Education, Molly Spearman and the Department of Social Services (DSS) have worked together to get the number of schools that are closed and being used as shelters down to 13 from 64. The pet shelters are currently closed, but you can find resources on the EMD website, if you need assistance with your pets. The shelters with the highest number of residents are in Beaufort, at Bluffton High School (where occupancy more than doubled last night), and Marion 2 schools. The EMD website will have current shelters and shelters opening in the future.

There are still 105,500 boil water advisories still in affect.

Director Heigel with the Department of Environmental Control (DHEC) said that almost all 205 of the high-risk dams have been inspected with a total of 13 confirmed breeches; 9 of them regulated dams and 4 non-regulated dams. They are also monitoring some low hazard dams, particularly in the Pee Dee area.

There are currently 8,500 linemen working on power outages. “If you see a lineman, thank them,” Governor Haley said. Power has been restored to 570,718 residents, with 290,108 residents still without power, mostly in hardest hit areas in Horry, Beaufort and Florence counties.

There is a crisis cleanup line for those who need assistance in clearing debris from homes and yards. There have already been calls from 8,100 homeowners. The line for the cleanup is 1-800-451-1954. To volunteer for cleanup efforts, call 1-888-585-9643.

There are 3,600 insurance adjusters on the ground. A disaster claim center will be open tomorrow, Oct. 12, and Thursday, Oct. 13, at the Bluffton Home Depot from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will be a 60-day extension, so that affected residents will not lose their insurance, should they not be able to make payments on time. It is likely that emergency medical crews, including doctors and dentists will be in Nichols and Marion in coming days.

Governor Haley thanked the 204 firefighters who have volunteered to help in Horry and Marion counties.

Director Sterling and Department of Corrections continue to make sandbags for flooding efforts.

“We are a state where neighbors help neighbors,” Governor Haley said, in reference to donations already being made to the OneSC fund. She also thanked AT&T, who gave to $25,000 to start donations for storm recovery.

The governor stated that South Carolina is moving from a hurricane situation to a flood situation, but assured that the state is prepared and is currently pre-positioning law enforcement and emergency teams to minimize any flood damage that will occur in the coming days.

“Don’t ever say South Carolina is not resilient,” Governor Haley added.

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