9 Dead In South Carolina Floods

9 Dead In South Carolina Floods

( 4UMF NEWS ) 9 Dead In South Carolina Floods:

The death toll rose to nine and millions of South Carolinians remained homebound Monday as state emergency officials grappled with massive flooding following days of historic rains.

Rain was forecast to continue on and off across much of the state until late Monday. Rainfall totaling 2 feet in some areas since a state of emergency was declared Thursday has forced hundreds of water rescues. Gov. Nikki Haley said 550 roads and bridges were closed. About 40,000 residences were without water, but many more were dealing with a boil order. About 26,000 had no power, she said.

"We are stronger today than we were yesterday," Haley said at a news conference Monday. "Our angels in South Carolina continue to be our first responders."

The National Weather Service said rainfall totaling 6.87 inches Sunday in Columbia smashed a record set in 1959. The two-day rainfall total of 10.44 inches also set a record. The Charleston area set records as well; one suburb had more than 2 feet of rain since Thursday.

In Columbia, Mayor Steve Benjamin said water service was returning to some areas of the city but that a boil alert remained in effect.

Steve Bowen, a meteorologist with the global insurance firm Aon Benfield, said economic losses to the state should "easily surpass $1 billion given the enormity of the damage."

"The cost to infrastructure alone could be that much," Bowen said in an e-mail to USA TODAY. "Unfortunately, as is the case with flood events, much of the damage will not be covered by insurance since only a small percentage of homeowners in South Carolina are current National Flood Insurance Program policyholders."

Gov. Nikki Haley said Sunday that this type of rain event can be expected once in 1,000 years.

Hundreds of rescues included a mother and her 15-month-old daughter, plucked from the roof of their flooded home Sunday by a Coast Guard air crew in Huger, about 25 miles north of Charleston. A helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Savannah, Ga., evacuated the pair to Mt. Pleasant Regional Airport.

Haley said 1,300 National Guard personnel were working Monday, and thousands more were on alert. She said President Obama, who previously had issued a state of emergency to provide federal assistance, called her Monday and was "extremely gracious and kind" and offered additional assistance.

Much of the East has been saturated by rains that have lingered since Thursday. Coastal areas of North Carolina and Virginia saw flooding, and flood warnings and watches were in effect along much of the East Coast. But the hovering storm saved its worst abuse for South Carolina.

"If you're safe where you are, stay there," the state Emergency Management Division tweeted Monday. "Flooding expected to continue in more than half the state."

AccuWeather senior meteorologist Dan Pydynowski called the weather event the worst in the state since Hurricane Hugo, which made landfall near Charleston as a Category 4 storm in 1989, killing 27 people in the state.

Pydynowski blamed the historic rains and flooding on a low pressure system that has stalled over the state since Thursday, combined with the outer edges of Hurricane Joaquin. The Category 2 hurricane, with sustained top winds of 105 mph, avoided a direct hit to the U.S. but did add fuel to rains and high wind along the coast

In Mount Pleasant, a suburb of Charleston, Sarah Shinners said her home was above the waterline — but the only road out of her neighborhood was impassable.

"Everything around us is completely flooded. It's terrible," Shinners told USA TODAY. "We are just hunkering down."

Chris Morris is one of the lucky ones in his Charleston neighborhood. He said many neighbors have evacuated, but his family's home is on a raised slab and hasn't been breached. He lives on a golf course, but you would not know that by looking at it.

"We woke up this morning to about 10 inches of water surrounding the house," Morris told USA TODAY. "And the golf course is completely under water."