Haley: South Carolina is on a roll

Haley: South Carolina is on a roll

COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC) - Gov. Nikki Haley began a Wednesday afternoon press conference saying the state is on a roll in terms of recovery.

The governor praised the state's Department of Transportation workers' progress in getting roads open in a matter of eight days.

"I am so proud of DOT," she said. "I am very proud to say we are down 48 percent thanks to the crews and maintenance work from DOT."

The number of closed roads now totals 281, which includes 84 bridges, she said. That number is down from a peak of 541 road closures.

Haley said 36 dams had breached and 32 of those were regulated dams. A total of 147, a number that includes the 36 breached dams, were being monitored while another 357 have already been inspected.

The number of shelters still open in South Carolina is down to seven, but 241 people are living in those shelters while efforts continue to help them get back on their feet.

"South Carolina is on the move, we are excited because we are knocking out all of the challenges that get in our way," she said. "Team South Carolina has said from the beginning 'can't' is not an option, so we're going to continue to move in that direction."

Haley said Newberry County has been added to the list of eligible counties for aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. So far, 47,648 people have registered for FEMA aid, she said, and the agency has approved $23 million in assistance. It now has 29 assessment teams working in 11 counties across the state.

Haley also lauded the state's National Guard members, SCDOT crews and first responders, some of whom she said suffered damage at their own homes but continued working to help others first.

Haley said the state would begin "Team South Carolina" days, on which teams would bring all of the state's resources, including DHEC mobile tetanus shot clinics and water testing labs,

The first day will be Friday from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. at the Sumter County disaster recovery center at the Sumter Civic Center, she said.

Haley encouraged South Carolinians who are able to help volunteer to call 211 and register their availability with the United Way, which can then coordinate efforts on Friday or any future

"The reason we want you to call and register through the United Way is because in order for us to help those people in need, we get assistance based on the number of volunteer hours," she said. She acknowledged her team made a mistake last week when they volunteered at the Harvest Hope Food Bank, because nearly 30 people worked for about an hour each and that volunteer time was not counted because they had not registered.

Haley thanked donors who have provided water, peanut butter and baby supplies after hearing of those immediate needs. She said the main things teams now need in bulk are work gloves, sponges, scrub brushes, bleach, disinfectant spray, mold control spray, dust masks, safety glasses heavy-duty garbage bags, ShopVacs, and box fans.

"That's what this comes down to, as everybody's trying to dig out from under the damage of the storm," she said.

Haley said any companies or businesses interested in donating a larger amount of money with which the state could purchase these items should call (888) 585-9643.

Haley also said she will work with members of the General Assembly to help the state recover from the recent floods, but she still sees no need for lawmakers to return for a special session.

Haley was asked about House Speaker Jay Lucas' call for hearings in the Ways and Means Committee to deal with potential costs of the flooding. The governor said she will work with lawmakers, but she is also trying to be creative to assist the state in storm recovery.

Haley said additional executive action may include keeping members of the National Guard on duty longer than first envisioned to work on local roads, or having state agencies ease flood recovery with things like free tetanus shots.

The governor said the Department of Health and Environmental Control is looking at how it handles dam inspections and whether additional engineers might be needed. She said some 36 dams across the state have failed since the storms began.

Copyright 2015 WCSC. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.