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Haley: Coastal counties could see voluntary evacuations

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By Matthew Clark
mclark@scbiznews.com
Published Oct. 7, 2015

As recovery efforts continue across the Midlands, Gov. Nikki Haley said there is the possibility of voluntary evacuations for coastal areas of the state.

During a press conference today, Haley said Colleton, Horry, Georgetown, Williamsburg, Charleston and Dorchester counties could have voluntary evacuations as floodwaters continue to move from the Midlands to the Lowcountry. Additionally, the Federal Emergency Management Agency already has assessors on the ground, and Berkeley, Sumter and Clarendon counties have been added to a federal disaster declaration.

Gov. Nikki Haley looks over flood-damaged areas of the state recently. Voluntary evacuations could come to the coastal areas of South Carolina today. (Photo provided by Rob Godfrey)

Gov. Nikki Haley looks over flood-damaged areas of the state recently. Voluntary evacuations could come to the coastal areas of South Carolina today. (Photo provided by Rob Godfrey)

Craig Fugate, with FEMA, said assessors will continue to look at damage, and counties will be added to the declaration “in a short amount of time.”

“We are adding as quickly as we can,” Fugate said, “but, anyone who is suffering, we need them to apply, and we will come to you.”

FEMA assessors are focused on Darlington and Florence counties today and will continue to move into other counties at a rapid pace, Fugate said.

“We are going to be here for a long time … we aren’t going anywhere,” Fugate said.

The number of fatalities associated with the flooding went up to 15 as Haley emphasized the public staying behind any barricades put in place by officials. She said five people drove around a barricade and two of them are still missing. She did not release names or the location of the barricade.

“Yesterday, I made it very clear that while the sun is out, this event is not over,” Haley said. “We have asked people not to move barricades or to drive around them.

“If a road is closed, it is because we are trying to protect you.”

According to the S.C. Department of Transportation, there are a total 409 road and bridge closures across the state, including 268 roads and 141 bridges. The department reopened portions of Interstate 95 to local traffic and reopened all of Interstate 26 in the state and the Interstate 126 flyover in Columbia on Tuesday. Thirteen miles of I-95 near Manning remain closed between mile markers 119 and 132.

Haley said the number of roads and bridges closed are expected to increase as floodwaters make their way to coastal areas. There are 3,000 members of the National Guard moving across the state, and Haley said there will be 2,000 more — 1,000 general purpose and 1,000 engineers — added.

“Things are getting better in the Midlands, but they are about to get worse on the coast,” Haley said. “We are working 48 hours ahead of what is happening … it’s not over yet.”

Efforts to restore water services in Columbia continue as 400 sand bags weighing a ton each have been put in place to stabilize the Columbia Canal. Haley said they are aiming for 750 sand bags in the next 24 to 48 hours. According to S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control Director Catherine Heigel, Columbia remains the largest of the 18 areas of the state under a boil-water order.

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