COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC) - Gov. Nikki Haley said South Carolina is not out of the woods yet as rain for many areas tapered off and floodwaters were receding Monday.
Haley said additional evacuations are possible as flooding drains and move south through the state after a historic rain event.
Authorities say the watershed they are most concerned about is in Kingstree, where the Black River could overflow. Williamsburg County emergency authorities called for a voluntary evacuations Monday afternoon of people who live near the Black River.
Authorities said the Wateree, Waccamaw and Edisto Rivers could also be problematic.
"When in doubt, we're evacuating," Haley said. "So if we think there's going to be any sort of concern whatsoever, we're going to be on the more cautious side than not, which is why I can already tell you Kingstree is probably going to have some evacuations and some others. But our job is to make sure that it's 'Safety First' and that the people are taken care of, and this team has worked very well to make that happen."
Haley said she has expedited federal disaster assistance to South Carolina by making a verbal request to federal authorities, taking the unusual step Monday morning as part of a plan to stay ahead of the situation.
"For those of you who have damage, go ahead and begin making a list of that," she said. "FEMA will be on the ground soon." She said authorities would explain the recovery process, but warned it would not be a quick process.
Haley spoke at a press conference from the state Emergency Operations Center in West Columbia, flanked by Adj. Gen. Robert Livingston, South Carolina Emergency Management Division Director Kim Stenson, a representative from SCE&G and agency directors from the State Emergency Response Team.
"South Carolina has gone through a storm of historic proportions," she said, adding that anyone who sees a first responder should thank them.
Haley said South Carolina has had nine weather-related deaths. Five of the deaths were drownings and the other four were vehicle accident-related, she said. Some 40,000 people are without drinking water and 26,000 are without power and more than 500 roads and bridges are closed.
Haley pleaded with the public to not attempt to get out and take pictures of the damage, giving the example of people in the Midlands taking boats to Lake Murray.
More than 1,300 National Guard members have been activated to help deal with the crisis and another 7,000 are on standby, she said.
At 10 a.m. Monday, 15 counties remained fully activated at OpCon 1, according to SCEMD spokesman Derrec Becker. At least 10 counties or municipalities have declared States of Emergency and many have imposed overnight curfews to allow first responders to focus on people still stranded by flooding.
Boil water advisories were in effect for much of the Midlands.
The state's Highway Patrol reported 148 collisions overnight, Becker said.