Governor Nikki Haley and her emergency team addressed the press in a conference from the South Carolina State House at 3 p.m. today, Oct. 13.
The Waccamaw River is currently the area of most concern. “The hard part is the wait,” said Governor Haley. Director Taylor of South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said that from the Bucks Port area to Conway the entire river system is rising. The Department of Transportation (DOT) is pre-positioning assets and performing an analysis of projected floodways.
Governor Haley reported that there has unfortunately been a fourth fatality following the events surrounding and following Hurricane Matthew. A resident in Dillon was moving a cable wire in a dangerous area. There was one other fatality in Richland County, and two in Florence County, prior to Monday evening.
Utility crews have been working tirelessly to restore power to South Carolina residents. There currently remain 75,276 outages, down from the peak of 861,000 outages. Remaining outages are due to utility workers attempting to navigate impassible roads.
All of Beaufort County is currently open to traffic. Secretary Hall of the DOT reported that there are still 263 roads closed, down from a peak of 481 closed. Most of these are secondary roads or flooded roads, particularly in the Pee Dee area. All bridges leading to the coast have been declared all clear. However one bridge, SC-9, had water rise over the top today, but DOT crews were prepositioned and ready to close the bridge. Interstates are fully operational. There are 1,600 highway workers that are still fully engaged and working “daylight to dark” to ensure road safety.
Eleven shelters remain open, mostly in the Pee Dee and Beaufort, with 372 occupants currently residing. There are shelters still in six schools, but efforts are bing made to consolidate these shelters and allow children to go back to school. There are four special needs shelters still open, with 21 occupants.
There are still 17 boil water advisories, affecting 78,000 people.
Director Heigel of the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) said there have been 21 dam breeches at this point, 16 regulated and five unregulated. These are continuing to be monitored and assessed by crews and drones; 390 dams of all classes have been assessed at this time. There are 17 emergency orders for dams currently in effect, with 9 expected to be breeched and 8 expected to be damaged.
Director Heigel also mentioned that it appears as though residents are heeding boil water advisories, as there has been no “up-tick” in reported enteric illness.
The Emergency Declaration is in effect for 13 counties, with other counties to be potentially added. FEMA is doing assessment for 25 counties. The Department of Insurance had success in its efforts in assisting with claims in Bluffton. They will be in Florence at the Florence Home Depot on Tues. Oct 18, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Rick Reames, the Director of Revenue for S.C., has extended filings and payments from October 4 to March 15, 2017 for the 13 declared counties and any added in the coming days.
Director Taylor of DNR and Chief Keel with the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) spoke to safety, rescue and security efforts in the Lowcountry. DNR remains most concerned with the Little Pee Dee and the Waccamaw Rivers. The Little Pee Dee has crested and is beginning to fall, but DNR, SLED and National Guardsmen continue to watch downstream. They are shifting focus to the Waccamaw, which will continue to rise over the weekend. Rescue and security crews remain in these areas.
There are 250 patrolmen and 450 National Guardsmen still deployed. Most resources are in Beaufort, Colleton, Horry, Marion, Georgetown and Dillon counties. Those in Walterboro, Edisto and Hilton Head Island are assisting in security and re-entry.
The Director and the Chief requested that sightseers remain out of these flooded areas, and should residents go boating this weekend as waters recede, to be very cautious of debris and floating objects.
The Edisto and Black Rivers are also being monitored.
Four parks remain closed, and some on the barrier islands, like the Edisto and Hunting Island, may not reopen until next year.
Governor Haley asked that should you see linemen, law enforcement and DOT crews, to “thank them when you see them.” Many have been working long hours while their own families and homes were affected.
Governor Haley also gave special thanks to her team and their workers, and asked South Carolinians to continue to pray for those who are still in harm’s way.
Some useful numbers for assistance:
Should you need help cleaning mud and debris, call the Crisis Cleanup hotline at 1-800-451-1954.
For food, clothing or shelter assistance, dial 211.
If you wish to help those in need, visit the One SC Fund at www.onescfund.org
To donate goods, visit www.volunteersc.org or dial 1-888-585-9643