COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC) - Gov. Nikki Haley painted a grim scenario Friday, particularly for those who live in low-lying areas, as the state prepares for potentially historic rainfall and flooding.
"We are about to go through something we've never gone through before," Haley said.
Haley said to expect power outages and road closures, urging people to stay home and stay safe.
"You're looking at about almost 14 inches (of rain) in the Columbia area over the next three days, eight to 12 inches for the rest of the state," she said. "It will start tonight, it will go through all day Saturday, all day Sunday, and we believe it will go until Monday and possibly Tuesday."
Haley urged citizens to make sure their cars have plenty of gas and to stay out of low-lying areas, which she said will flood. Haley said the state's Emergency Management Division is preparing a map of the most vulnerable areas, and urged those who live in low-lying, flood-prone areas to take extra precautions, including determining places to go before flooding begins.
She also warned of the possibility of extended power outages.
"Because there's going to be power outages, you need to plan on having a power outage for a few days," she said. "So food, water, everything you would need to be ready for a power outage, you would do that."
Haley said it will likely take longer to get power restored than during winter storms because of the amount of water involved.
Haley said Guardsmen and high-water vehicles are already on standby, and South Carolina already has 150,000 sandbags and is in the process of getting more. She also said authorities would be preparing to close roads ahead of time to avoid flooding dangers.
But she urged South Carolinians to also be on standby.
"This is the time we need you to be prepared," she said. "This is the time we need you to take care of your family. Know where your kids are going to be. They need to be at home. Don't plan on going any places that you don't need to go. And most of all, do not drive into the water. Do not think that your car can make it into the water: it can't."
As of noon on Friday, the state's Emergency Management Division increased South Carolina's operational condition to Level 3.
OpCon3 means a disaster or emergency situation is likely in our state and that state agencies have been notified to staff positions at the State Emergency Operations Center in West Columbia, according to SCEMD spokesman Derrec Becker.
"We have already had one death associated with flooding in the Upstate," SCEMD Director Kim Stenson said, "The heaviest rainfall is still to come. All South Carolinians need to be prepared and ready to act upon official instructions from preparedness officials."
The SEOC is currently operating on a 24-hour schedule for the duration of the incident.
"Forecasters with the National Weather Service predict a record amount of rainfall throughout much of South Carolina, creating the conditions for flash flooding," Becker said in a statement. "People in potentially vulnerable areas should review their plans. Residents and visitors in the state should monitor the storm via local news media and through trusted, official, sources online.
When flooding occurs in your area, SCEMD officials urge you to follow the following guidelines:
- Be aware of potential flash flooding. If there is any possibility of a flash flood, move to higher ground. Do not wait to be told to move.
- If time allows, prepare your home for a flood by moving essential items to an upper floor, bring in outdoor furniture, disconnect electrical appliances and be prepared to turn off the gas, electricity and water.
- Do not walk through moving water. Six inches of moving water can make you fall. If you have to walk in water, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
- Do not drive into flooded areas. If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground if you can do so safely. You and the vehicle could be quickly swept away. One foot of water can cause your car to float off the roadway.
- Be aware of electricity issues. Don't go into a basement, or any room, if water covers the electrical outlets or if cords are submerged. If you see sparks or hear buzzing, crackling, snapping or popping noises --get out! Stay out of water that may have electricity in it!
- Do not walk through flood waters. It only takes six inches of moving water to knock you off your feet. If you are trapped by moving water, move to the highest possible point and call 911 for help.
Multiple businesses, school districts and government agencies closed on Friday, and many weekend events have either been canceled or postponed by the weather threat.