South Carolina's governor on Thursday warned of more flooding in the rain-battered state, as swollen rivers are expected to deliver more water to low lying and coastal areas.
Gov. Nikki Haley told reporters Thursday afternoon that she toured the hard-hit areas of Kingstree and Givhans Ferry and "what we saw was devastating."
"You're seeing boats in yards, and you're seeing houses underwater, and you're seeing damage at levels we never thought we would see," Haley said. "The problem is, more is coming."
Haley said that areas south of Givhans Ferry, located northwest of Charleston, could be flooded over the next 72 hours. The community of Georgetown, farther north up the coast, could be see flooding over the next 12 hours, she said.
Once the water comes, areas could remain flooded for up to 12 days, Haley said.
"If someone comes and knocks on your door and tells you to leave — I know you've lived there a long time, I know that all your belongings are there, I know that you might have been through weather related issues before — this is different," Haley said.
There were 267 roads under the jurisdiction of the South Carolina Department of Transportation that were closed due to the rain event as of Wednesday evening, and 134 bridges were closed, emergency officials said.
The National Weather Service warned of major flooding along the Santee River near Jamestown, the Edisto River near Givhans Ferry and the Black River at Kingstree.
The Santee River near Jamestown was at 18.36 feet Thursday afternoon and was expected to rise to 23 feet — more than 13 feet above flood stage — by Saturday afternoon, the NWS said. The Edisto River near Givahns Ferry was at 16 feet, six feet above flood stage, and the Black River at Kingstree was at 19 feet, seven feet above flood stage Thursday, the NWS said
Seventeen deaths across South Carolina have been attributed to the historic flooding, which began after heavy rains on Friday. Downtown Charleston flooded, and a swath around the city remained under a flood warning Thursday, the NWS said.
A state of emergency has been declared for South Carolina, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency is assisting those affected. The National Guard has been shoring up dams, and on Thursday North Carolina announced it would send 500 more soldiers and airmen to help respond to the floods.