The Latest: Guardsman hit by impatient driver after floods

AP News
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Posted: Oct 09, 2015 2:55 PM
The Latest: Guardsman hit by impatient driver after floods

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The latest on the rainstorm that pounded parts of the East Coast (all times local):

2:30 p.m.

A South Carolina sheriff says a driver tired of waiting intentionally hit a member of the National Guard directing traffic outside of a food bank.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott says the guardsman didn't appear to be severely injured in the incident Friday.

But the sheriff says he is furious anyone would put workers trying to help after the disaster in danger. He promised to file attempted murder charges when the driver is arrested.

Lott says a witness told deputies the guardsman was intentionally hit by an impatient driver. The sheriff says his deputies are looking for a silver Toyota and are checking surveillance cameras for a picture of the vehicle.

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12:40 p.m.

South Carolina officials say the foundations under some bridges on Interstate 95 have washed out, and they can't say when a 13-mile stretch of one of the most important highways on the East Coast will be open.

South Carolina Transportation Secretary Christy Hall said Friday that the problems are on 18 separate small bridges that go over the Black and Pocotaligo rivers and surrounding swampland in Clarendon County.

Hall says a contractor will begin to fix the foundations Saturday and work night and day. But she says she can't say how long that will take.

Other bridges in the area are also damaged, so travelers on I-95 that would normally drive 74 miles from Interstate 26 to Interstate 20 are having to take a 168-mile detour through Columbia.

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12:15 p.m.

While Columbia officials are confident they will not lose water service, they can't say when most of the city's 375,000 customers will be able to stop boiling water before they drink it.

Assistant City Manager Missy Gentry says Columbia is trucking in water and laying pipes from two nearby rivers to make sure water remains in the Columbia Canal, which is the chief source for drinking water.

An advisory telling people to boil water was issued during Sunday's rainstorm, and Columbia Utilities Director Joey Jaco says he can't say when that may be lifted. He says crews must finish repairing numerous breaks in the system first.

The advisory has left thousands scrambling for bottled water and businesses shut down. Restaurants that are open are serving meals off paper plates and drinks from cans.

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The largest hospital in Columbia shut down its water supply for 12 hours as it set up an alternative source of water.

Palmetto Health Richland Hospital shut down its water system at 6 p.m. Thursday, restoring service at 6 a.m. Friday.

Hospital officials said they acted because the city of Columbia does not know when it will be able to provide safe drinking water.

Hospital spokeswoman Tammie Epps says the U.S. Army has provided a reverse osmosis system to purify the water so it can be used. Epps says the system was flushed and cleaned during the 12-hour shutdown. She says the water from the Army system is being tested for 24 hours before it can be relied upon.

The hospital is continuing to use the un-filtered, city-provided water for its air conditioning and certain other equipment.

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The general in charge of the Army's largest training installation has called off basic training graduations and family days because of problems from massive flooding.

Maj. Gen. Roger Cloutier says the 17,000 soldiers working and training at Fort Jackson near Columbia are safe.

But he canceled weekly family days and Thursday graduations through Oct. 22, saying travel conditions are just too difficult to bring in the 5,000 people who typically come for the celebrations.

Fort Jackson spokesman Pat Jones says the soldiers are eating field rations — known as MREs — because restaurants on the installation are closed due to the lack of drinking water. Training is continuing, but only the essential 3,500 civilians who also work on the post are being asked to come to work.

Fort Jackson trains some 50,000 soldiers in 10 weeks of basic combat training.

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Noon

Federal officials have opened three centers in central South Carolina to take applications from people who need help after the flooding that has devastated the region.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said Friday that centers have opened at libraries in Lexington, Columbia and Sumter.

In addition to FEMA personnel, the South Carolina Emergency Management Division and the U.S. Small Business Administration will be at the center to explain the assistance programs.

FEMA suggests that people register with the agency at DiasterAssitance.gov or by calling 800-621-3362 before visiting one of the recovery centers.

Federal disaster assistance can include money for temporary rental assistance and essential home repairs for primary residences that are not covered by insurance.

Low-interest disaster loans will also be available from the Small Business Administration that can help with uninsured homeowner, renter and business losses.

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11 a.m.

The Internal Revenue Service is warning people to be alert for possible scams after the flooding in South Carolina.

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said in a statement Friday that people should be careful when making donations for flood victims.

Koskinen says scam artists often try to impersonate charities to get money or private information after disasters occur.

He says those schemes can come by telephone, social media, email or in-person solicitors.

Koskinen suggests using the IRS.gov website to help check the status of charitable groups.

He says people should donate to recognized charities and be wary of charities with names that are similar to nationally known organizations.

Legitimate charities are also listed on the Federal Emergency Management Agency website at fema.gov.

Koskinen also warned against giving personal information such as Social Security numbers or credit card or bank account numbers to anyone soliciting a contribution.

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9:35 a.m.

The floods in South Carolina have all but ended the state's drought.

Maps from the U.S. Drought Monitor show less than 5 percent of South Carolina is in any stage of drought.

Last week, 73 percent of the state was in one of the five drought stages. South Carolina had been affected by the dry weather worse than any other Southeastern state.

But that was before 20 inches or more of rain fell in some areas. The National Weather Service reported that about three-quarters of the state received at least 6 inches of rain from Oct. 2 to Oct. 6.

The only area still reporting drought is the extreme southern part of South Carolina, which received less than 3 inches of rain in the storm.

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8:40 a.m.

Parts of nearly 260 roads in South Carolina are still closed because of flooding after a massive rainstorm.

That's according to a South Carolina Department of Transportation report from Friday morning. The agency also says 125 bridges remain closed.

Road and bridges in at least 26 counties have been affected.

Thirteen miles of Interstate 95 are still closed in Clarendon County. And officials continue to worry about the bridges over the Black and Pocotaglio rivers along the highway.

There are additional restrictions on other sections of I-95 between I-26 and I-20.

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8:05 a. m.

Forecasters say that a week after a storm that caused historic flooding in South Carolina, more rain is on the way.

The National Weather Service said Friday that a low pressure system will stall near the South Carolina coast this weekend.

The rain is expected to begin late Friday night. The heaviest rain is forecast for Saturday, with some areas receiving as much as another inch of rain in heavier downpours. The rain is expected to taper off on Sunday.

Officials are still concerned about flooding from rain-swollen rivers in the eastern part of the state.

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6:20 a.m.

Officials in South Carolina's Sumter County have lifted boil water advisories in two locations, Sumter and Oswego, in the aftermath of flooding in the state. But officials cautioned that residents of one community, Rembert, still need to boil their water before using it for cooking or drinking.

Water is also being distributed at fire stations in the communities of Rembert, Dubose, Mayesville and Pinewood in the wake of the flooding touched off by recent days of heavy rains around South Carolina.

A curfew will remain in effect through Saturday morning from midnight until 7 a.m. in Sumter and all of Sumter country, authorities say.

Meanwhile, the recovery continues. Officials say debris from homes will be picked up starting Monday and should be kept separate from regular household garbage.

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6:00 a.m.

Officials are warning people in South Carolina to be alert for those who say they are working for the Federal Emergency Management Agency and do not have proper FEMA credentials.

Residents are asked to call law enforcement officials if confronted by people claiming to work for FEMA without the proper identification.

The call for vigilance comes as the state is seeking to recover from widespread flooding in several areas of the state caused by heavy rains that first began falling a week ago. Skies have since cleared but authorities say the flood threat remains in areas near rain-swollen rivers near the coast.

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5:15 a.m.

A week after the heavy rains first began, some South Carolina residents are still evacuating and others are stacking up sandbags for more possible flooding even as the nation's top security official prepares to inspect the damage firsthand.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson scheduled a visit during the day Friday to the major cities of Columbia and Charleston to meet with officials and get a look at recovery efforts from what South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has described as a 1,000-year flood.

Although skies have since cleared, coastal areas are bracing because of rain-swollen rivers and the threat of renewed flooding. Some are being evacuated from rural areas while others in Georgetown, near the confluence of a series of rivers, are again putting out sandbags as they did last weekend.