Carolinas: Nine dead and coffins floating in flood waters as region endures 'once-in-a-thousand-year' rains

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At least nine people were killed and a region was left struggling to respond after “once-in-a-millennium” rains triggered widespread flooding in North and South Carolina.

The rains threw more than 20 inches on parts of central South Carolina since they set in on Friday. Such was the extent of the flooding that in some locations, there were reports of coffins being loosened from the ground.

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley said parts of the state were hit with rainfall that would be expected to occur once in 1,000 years, with the Congaree River at its highest level since 1936.

“If you are in your house, stay in your house,” Ms Haley said at a news conference. “This is not something to be out taking pictures of.”

Reuters said that six weather-related deaths were reported in South Carolina, four of them from traffic accidents. Officials reported another two deaths in North Carolina. The toll was subsequently increased to nine.

Rains flooded highways along the South Carolina coast between Charleston and Georgetown, the national weather service said. Georgetown, a city of 9,000 people, was mostly under water, and the four major highways leading into it were closed.

“We have every ambulance in the county out responding to calls. People are being moved from their homes in boats,” said Georgetown County spokeswoman Jackie Broach said.

Mashable reported that the heavy rains were dislodging coffins from some of the regions coffins. It said that in 1994, during flooding caused by Tropical Storm Alberto, over 400 coffins were forced to the surface in Albany, Georgia.

Flooding also hit the state capital, Columbia, where the Congaree rose 10 feet in 12 hours, according to local officials. Residents were advised on the city's website to boil drinking water because of water line breaks. There were curfews in place in a number of areas.

Scenes in Georgetown, South Carolina

State emergency officials urged residents not to travel due to unsafe roads, and curfews were imposed in eight cities or counties, including Columbia. Schools and universities canceled Monday classes.

A 70-mile stretch of Interstate 95, a major East Coast highway, was closed because of high water.

The state Highway Patrol reported 315 collisions and 318 cases of roadway flooding. Hundreds of flood rescues were carried out, and eight water rescue teams were operating, with more coming from other states, South Carolina's emergency management office said.

Precipitation records fell in many places. Charleston broke its record for the greatest monthly rainfall for October in less than four days.

Amtrak, the passenger rail service, canceled its Virginia-to-Florida auto train and a passenger train from New York to Miami due to the flooding