Hurricane Joaquin, combined with other storm systems, has brought about the worst floods South Carolina has witnessed in a long time. According to the National Weather Service, Columbia experienced its rainiest day in history on Sunday, easily surpassing the previous worst, which took place on July 9, 1959.
As a result of the worst downpour South Carolina has experienced since National Weather Service began keeping track of rainfall in US territories, several interstates have shut down completely, with search and rescue teams scrambling to keep up with their efforts to help the affected families. Though five people have reportedly been confirmed dead, the actual number of casualties can only be estimated once the rainfall subsides, which might not happen any time soon, according to South Carolina Emergency Management. Ten counties or municipalities have declared states of emergency, while eight counties or municipalities have imposed overnight curfews.
The South Carolina coast endured the most severe floods, with rainfalls topping 24 inches over the weekend, reports New York Daily News.
More than 30,000 people have been left without power, and a 75-mile stretch of I-95 was closed as a result of the flooding.
Governor Nikki Haley described the rains as the worst South Carolina has endured in “a 1000 years.”
“We are at a 1,000-year level of rain. That’s how big this is.”
As it turns out, she wasn’t overestimating. CNN reports that the amount of rainfall in South Carolina has a 1-in-1,000 chance of happening in any given year. According to ABC News, one area in downtown Columbia endured 17 inches of rains in 17 hours, and what’s worse, the rain continues to pour in thick and fast.
The rains have been so devastating that Columbia Fire Chief Aubry Jenkins said in an interview that there were too many rescues to keep count.
“We’re just trying to get to everyone. But there are places we just haven’t gotten to.”
Though Hurricane Joaquin is not to be completely blamed for the floods, it has played a substantial part in combining with other storm systems to wreak havoc in South Carolina. It could still get worse, admitted Governor Haley, urging residents to take the necessary precautions to avoid falling victims to the “catastrophic rains.”
“We’re in the middle of it. We’ve still got easily another 24 hours that you should be extremely careful. We’ve got more rainfall that’s expected.”
Here are a few simple precautions you can take to remain safe during the floods.
Do not venture out
Residents in South Carolina will do well to remain indoors during the floods.
“Regardless of where you are in the state, stay home,” governor Nikki Haley said. “Stay off the roadways.”
Boil drinking water
Since water treatment plants across the southern regions of South Carolina have been severely hit as the result of the floods, residents must make sure to boil water before drinking.
“Rising water from flooding can carry viruses, bacteria, chemicals and other submerged objects picked up as it moves through storm water systems, across industrial sites, yards, roads and parking lots,” the South Carolina Emergency Response Team said.
Do not drive
National Weather Service officials released a public service announcement, urging residents not to drive during the floods, even if the waters appear shallow in certain regions.
“Do not attempt to drive into flooded roadways. It takes just 12 inches of flowing water to carry off a small car. Turn around, don’t drown.”
President Obama has declared a state of emergency in South Carolina, helping bring federal assistance to state and local efforts.
[Photos via Sean Rayford / Getty Images]