Saying the deadly flood waters in her state were at “a thousand-year level” — and acknowledging that there was still 24 hours of rain to come — Gov. Nikki Haley urged the residents of South Carolina to stay safe and strong during a Sunday afternoon press conference.
Haley gave an accounting of just how devastating the storm has been: 30,000-plus sandbags used, 754 calls for assistance in a 12-hour period, 323 collisions, three fatalities. Nearly 600 National Guard troops had been activated, she said, with 1,300 more either on call or on standby. Rescue crews had 11 aircrafts, eight swiftwater rescue teams and 106 highwater vehicles at their disposal. More swiftwater teams were on their way from Tennessee, Haley said.
“If you’re driving and you see water, turn around — don’t drown”
– Gov. Nikki Haley
President Obama has already declared a state of emergency in South Carolina and ordered federal aid to help state and local efforts.
“If you are in your house, stay in your house,” she said. “This is not something to be out taking pictures of. This is not something for your kids to be playing in.”
Haley suggested that schools would likely be closed on Monday since the waters weren’t likely to clear up until Tuesday or Wednesday at the earliest.
“This is different than a hurricane,” Haley said, “because it’s water and it’s slow moving and it’s sitting and we just can’t take the water out.”
Haley said the amount of rain in the low country was at its highest level in a thousand years and noted that the Congaree River was at its highest level since 1936. Hydrologist Leonard Vaughan told the Associated Press that more than 14 inches of rain had fallen in downtown Charleston as of 9 a.m. Sunday. The Greenville-Spartanburg Airport in South Carolina recorded 2.3 inches of rain Saturday, smashing the previous record of 0.77 inches set in 1961, according to National Weather Service meteorologist at Greenville-Spartanburg John Tomko.