South Carolina braces for second round of flooding
GEORGETOWN, S.C. -- Rivers rose and dams bulged Wednesday as South Carolina faced another anxious day of waiting for the floodwaters to recede, and search teams found the bodies of two people who died after they drove around a barricade and into standing water.
At least 19 people in South Carolina and North Carolina have died in the storm.
Along the coast, residents prepared for a second round of flooding as rivers swollen from days of devastating rains make their way toward the Atlantic. In the Columbia area, where some returned home to assess damage and clean up, the threat of more flooding still hadn't lifted.
"Things are getting better in the midlands," Gov. Nikki Haley said at an afternoon news conference. "Things are about to get worse on the coast."
She said evacuations may be needed toward the coast because of swollen rivers.
About 1,000 residents near the compromised Beaver Dam were told to evacuate Wednesday morning, though the order was lifted several hours later when crews shored up the dam.
Haley said 62 dams across the state were being monitored and 13 had already failed.
U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham warned the disaster could "break the bank" of federal emergency funds, possibly topping more than $1 billion.
Haley said state wildlife officials have made at least 600 rescues during the flooding.
Angela Cole and her partner, Craig Smith, were among those rescued by fellow South Carolinians. CBS News' David Begnaud was with them when they entered their home for the first time since Sunday's flooding. The flood destroyed most of their possessions.
As the water rose in their home, the family climbed to their attic. They called 911, but two hours passed without help. Cole posted a plea for help on Facebook. Smith made a hole through the wall of the house, and they screamed for help.
Three men heard the family's pleas and rushed to their aid.
"I think they thought they were done for," said John Winges, one of the rescuers. "If we wouldn't have been there 20 more minutes, I don't think they had that much time left."
In coastal Georgetown, one of America's oldest cities, Scott Youngblood put more sandbags by the door of the Augustus & Carolina furniture store on Front Street, the popular tourist attraction that runs along the Sampit River.
Each day since last weekend's storm - which sent more than a foot of water washing down the street - water at high tide has lapped against those sandbags. Residents worried there may be more flooding on the Black and Waccamaw rivers. Both drain into Georgetown County.
The Waccamaw was expected to crest at 5 feet above flood stage in Conway, in Horry County, on Thursday. The Black crested Tuesday upstream at Kingstree at about 10 feet above flood stage, breaking a record, town officials said.
Youngblood hopes things won't be as bad as earlier in the week.
"We're hanging our hat on that we're not going to have that combination of tide and rain and such," he said. "We had so much rain, but the primary thing we were experiencing was the water table coming up through the bottom bubbling up from beneath the flooring. We had quite a bit of damage."
In Richland County, officials said they've gotten reports that caskets were popping out of the ground swollen from the historic rainfall. Richland County Coroner Gary Watts would not say where caskets have surfaced but said officials would work to relocate them.
The state Department of Health and Environmental Control said it was monitoring cemetery flooding across the state and was surveying cemetery operators to assess their needs. The agency said it has 11 confirmed instances of disinterment from six counties.
Haley took an aerial tour of damaged areas Tuesday, and planned to visit the coast Wednesday afternoon.
"We are watching this minute by minute," she said.
At a shelter in Columbia, Graham said it would take weeks to get a good damage assessment.
"We're talking hundreds of millions (of dollars), maybe over a billion," he said.
On Tuesday, the governor said it could be "any amount of dollars."
Graham also warned state and county officials not to use the disaster as an opportunity to ask for money unrelated to flood damage. He criticized the federal government's aid package to the Northeast following Hurricane Sandy in 2012, calling it a "pork-laden monstrosity."
In two of the most recent storm-related deaths, sheriff's deputies said the pickup's driver went around barricade for a road that had been closed, and plunged into the water at a 20-foot gap where the pavement was washed out.
Sheriff's spokesman Lt. Curtis Wilson said three people in the pickup truck managed to get to safety around 3 a.m. Wednesday, but two others were found dead inside the truck by divers several hours later. The names of the victims were not released.
Electricity had returned to most homes and businesses and about 10,000 people were without water, down from a peak of 40,000.
Roads and bridges were taking longer to restore: Some 200 engineers were inspecting more than 400 spots that remained closed Tuesday, including parts of Interstate 95.
And crews in Columbia were still working Wednesday to repair a breach in a canal that was threatening the main water supply for 375,000 people, Utilities Director Joey Jaco said. Workers were building a rock dam a few hundred feet north of the breach, which is near the city's hydroelectric plant.
Jaco said the only danger now is for the canal - built in the early 1800s and supplying 35 million gallons of water to the city's water plant each day - to breach in a second spot, but he added that the levy shows no signs of buckling.
At the Beaver Dam in a neighborhood in northeast Columbia, officials worked to shore up the dam and said they believed the worst has been averted.
Col. Brad Owens said crews worked through the night using sandbags and dropping rocks to hold back the escaping water. Part of the roadway has been eroded and has been closed for days, Owens said.
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