COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC/AP) - Gov. Nikki Haley says South Carolina is moving from response operations to a massive recovery operation.
"We are in high gear," she said at the start of a Monday afternoon press conference. "If we thought we worked last week, we're working double time this week because we want to get things going."
Haley began her press conference highlighting some good news in those recovery efforts, pointing out there were no county closings for Monday and no issues with the ports, power, hospitals, pipelines, airports or transit. Haley said all health clinics were fully operational.
Haley said the weather-related death toll has held at 19.
The Federal Emergency Management Administration has 23 teams working in 15 counties Monday, and Haley said 37,052 have registered for FEMA assistance so far. She also said the agency has approved $13.2 million in assistance.
Haley said nine disaster relief recovery centers will be open as of Monday: one each in Clarendon, Orangeburg, Sumter, Kershaw and Florence Counties and two each in Lexington and Richland Counties. Two additional centers will open Tuesday, she said.
Haley also spotlighted the partial reopening of I-95, where the southbound lanes reopened Monday morning.
One of the major priorities this week, she said, was working county by county to address immediate needs.
"Our focus now is very much counties reducing the number of people in shelters, which is us making sure that they have good, permanent housing and good, permanent placement on where they're going to go, so we're going to be working on that all this week," she said.
Ten shelters were currently open as of noon with 304 occupants, according to state officials.
Haley said SCDOT is reporting 322 closures, which includes 98 bridges. The northbound lanes of I-95 were expected to reopen later Monday or early Tuesday, but she said crews needed more concrete than was originally estimated for repairs, bringing the total number of truckloads from 200 to 270.
Haley said debris removal is beginning in Richland, Lexington and Sumter Counties, and said state officials planned a conference call with various counties in the hopes of coordinating all removal efforts through SCDOT.
"If we do that, it would be consistent, it would be efficient, and we would better be able to control the situation," she said. Dorchester, Sumter and Lexington Counties, as well as the town of Summerville have already agreed to allow the state to manage those efforts, she said.
Haley said 27 dam breaches have been recorded so far. That number, she said, includes both regulated and unregulated dams.
"There are 247 dams, including those 27 that are breached, that we continue to watch," she said.
The state's Department of Health and Environmental Control is in the process of contacting owners of regulated dams to give them guidance on inspections.
More than 1,000 people have already taken advantage of free tetanus shots being offered by county health clinics and mobile clinics, she said.
Mobile clinics will be operating from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday at the Lexington County Library's Irmo Branch, at 6251 St. Andrews Road in Columbia; and from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the Bloomingdale Community Center, at 8296 Thurgood Marshall Highway in Andrews.
All health clinics are fully operational and free shots will also be available at those facilities.
DHEC officials recommend a tetanus vaccination for anyone who has not had one within the past 10 years or if you have experienced an injury and your last tetanus vaccination was more than five years ago.
DHEC is also offering free tests of well water. Haley said they can test up to 2,000 samples per day to make sure well water has not been contaminated.
Haley: State working to expedite insurance claims
Haley said the state's Department of Insurance brought in 503 emergency adjusters, in addition to the 2,800 already in place, which she said will make a great impact on getting claims processed faster.
The agency can answer insurance-related questions through their hotline at (800) 768-3467 or through its website at doi.sc.gov.
Haley says assessment teams will be out across the state to determine exactly how much damage the floods caused. She says it is too early to speculate on any kind of damage figure.
The governor says there will be teams of mental health professionals, insurance workers, unemployment specialists and other government employees going to hard-hit areas. She says she wants residents to get help where they area.
Haley said she won't decide until she has a better grasp on how much damage has occurred whether she will ask lawmakers to return before January to find money to pay for repairs. But Haley says she knows the Legislature will work with her to do whatever is needed.