- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 11, 2016

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - The Latest on the impact of Hurricane Matthew on South Carolina (all times local):

4:25 p.m.

President Barack Obama has declared 13 counties in South Carolina federal disaster areas after the winds and rains of Hurricane Matthew pummeled the state.

Gov. Nikki Haley announced Tuesday that the order allows federal aid to help local and state recovery efforts in counties most severely affected by Hurricane Matthew.

The declaration allows the federal government to reimburse local governments, state agencies, some nonprofit organizations and electric cooperatives for some expenses they have incurred after the storm. Disaster aid is not currently available for individuals.

The declaration applies to Beaufort, Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton and Darlington counties. Other counties covered include Dillon, Dorchester, Florence, Georgetown, Horry, Jasper, Marion, and Williamsburg.


3:10 p.m.

Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor is reopening to the public after being closed in advance of Hurricane Matthew.

The fort, where the Civil War began with the firing by the Confederates on the Union-held fortification in April 1861, reopens Wednesday as does Fort Moultrie on Sullivans Island. Moultrie was the site of a key Patriot victory in 1776 just days before the Declaration of Independence was signed.

Also reopening is Liberty Square, the site of a museum and visitors center in downtown Charleston where visitors catch the ferry to Fort Sumter.

The National Park Service says the facilities came though Matthew in relatively good shape. But damage at Fort Sumter forced the closure of restrooms there. However there are rest rooms on the ferries going to Sumter.


2:30 p.m.

A year after the historic 2015 floods, South Carolina farmers are recovering from another storm.

State Agriculture Commissioner Hugh Weathers says Hurricane Matthew has affected many of the farms affected after last October’s rains caused what has been called a 1,000-year flood.

Agriculture officials are still trying to tally up a dollar amount for the Hurricane Matthew damage. But they know there are significant losses to the cotton crop and moderate losses to the soybean crop.

Peanuts were harvested before the storm, but power is out to seven of the 12 locations where they are sold in the state so storing the peanuts could become an issue.

More than 200,000 chickens were killed in the storm and many poultry farms don’t have electricity and are relying on generators to power chicken houses.


1:15 p.m.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley says that the state is going from dealing with a hurricane to now dealing with floods.

And she told a midday news conference Tuesday that it may take days until the flooding threat completely subsides. The highest water is in the Pee Dee in the northeast corner of the state where some areas received upward to 15 inches of rain.

The Department of Natural Resources says that the Pee Dee River in the Florence area is expected to crest in the next day or so. But it could be a week to 10 days before the flooding threat from the Waccamaw River farther east subsides.

State officials say 434 state roads and bridges across South Carolina are closed because of the storm as is a section of Interstate 95 in Jasper County.

At midday about 290,000 electric customers in the state were still without power.


1 p.m.

For 41-year-old Natalie McDowell, the third generation of her family to live in Nichols in Marion County, South Carolina, the flooding from Hurricane Matthew is like nothing in memory.

The rains of the hurricane had largely passed and that’s why what happened next was so unexpected. In a less than two hours, McDowell and her husband Tim went from thinking they had safely weathered the storm to fleeing for their lives as the Lumber River washed over its banks.

They packed some things and fled to a nearby hospital Sunday where they spent the night with their two sons.

This week about 150 people from the hamlet were rescued from rising waters. On Tuesday the National Guard was blocking all the roads into downtown where buildings stood in several feet of water.

The storm dropped about 15 inches of rain in the area.


11:35 a.m.

National Guardsmen have cordoned off all roads leading into the hamlet of Nichols, South Carolina where flood waters from Hurricane Matthew have left the downtown under several feet of water.

Travelers heading to the town in Marion County about 10 miles from the North Carolina state line were being redirected on Tuesday morning.

And now, for the town’s 400 or so residents, it’s a matter of waiting for the waters of the Lumber River to crest and the floodwaters to recede.

About 150 people were evacuated earlier this week as the swollen river overflowed its banks and spilled into the city streets. The area received as much as 15 inches of rain during Hurricane Matthew.

Duke Energy crews drove past the National Guard barricades Tuesday morning heading into the town to work on flooded power substations. The community has been without power since Saturday.


11:15 a.m.

An animal rescue group from North Carolina has workers in the flood-ravaged community of Nichols helping rescue cats and dogs from homes and other buildings in town.

Eric Phelps of the Brother Wolf organization based in Ashville, North Carolina, says shelters in northeastern South Carolina have been filling up and the group wants to rescue the animals so they are not euthanized.

The organization’s web site says Brother Wolf was founded almost a decade ago as a no kill animal rescue organization. The group works to find homes for all the animals it rescues.

Phelps says that workers from Brother Wolf are using two battery-powered inflatable boats and have a supply of crates to help rescue pets stranded in the flooding in South Carolina.


10:40 a.m.

Residents of Hilton Head Island, the first area in South Carolina to feel the effects of Hurricane Matthew as it approached last week, are finally getting a chance to return to their homes three days after the storm passed.

Officials have kept people off the resort island on the state’s southern tip saying standing water and downed trees made if unsafe for people to return. The island has one bridge to the mainland.

Hilton Head Mayor David Bennett announced on Monday night that the island would reopen on Tuesday afternoon.

He said, though, that some neighborhoods and gated subdivisions might still restrict entry based on the damage in those locations.


10:15 a.m.

The state Department of Motor Vehicles is dispatching mobile vans to areas of the state affected by Hurricane Matthew. Drivers whose vehicles were damaged or destroyed on the storm can get duplicate titles and registrations.

DMV Director Kevin Shwedo says the vans will be in Charleston, Florence and Jasper counties beginning Tuesday. No driver tests are being offered.

The vans will be located at the North Charleston Coliseum, outside the Florence DMV office on East Palmetto St. and outside the Jasper County DMV office in Ridgeland.

The offices will help motorists who need documents to file insurance claims.


10 a.m.

The flooding from Hurricane Matthew has been capricious in northeastern South Carolina. Along state Route 41 near Lake View in Dillon County rising water has entered the ground floor of some homes. But then homes next door, on ground that is a bit higher, appear untouched.

The trees along the highway took a hit from the storm and people have been out with chain saws clearing the way to driveways along the highway near the community of 800 people which is not far from Nichols.

About 150 people were rescued from rising flood waters in Nichols on Monday. And it wasn’t just people who were rescued.

Local resident Kathy Finger provided a video of rescuers saving Boots the cat. The black-and-white cat is seen on the roof of a white car in a garage as a rescuer stood in waist-deep water coaxing Boots into a cage.


9:15 a.m.

Just as things were starting to return to normal after a hurricane buffeted the city, some motorists in Charleston found they had to deal with unexpected parking tickets.

It seems an overzealous parking enforcement officer wrote a number of tickets for vehicles parked near the city’s popular open-air City Market on Monday as the market prepared to reopen after Hurricane Matthew.

City spokesman Jack O’Toole says the tickets were a mistake and those who received them can call the city and the tickets will be dismissed. But amnesty for parking tickets won’t last long. Normal parking rules - tickets and all - are being enforced beginning Tuesday.

The City Market, where visitors can buy everything from original art and T-shirts to sweetgrass baskets woven by the descendants of slaves, is a popular stop for the millions of tourists who visit Charleston each year.


9:00 a.m.

South Carolina officials are warning people to ask for official identification to avoid being victimized by scammers in the wake of Hurricane Matthew.

Derrec Becker of the South Carolina Emergency Management Division says residents should be aware some individuals may try to take advantage of storm victims. He says those who provide legitimate services won’t ask for personal information such as social security numbers, bank information or other personal information.

Becker says if you feel unsafe if a stranger comes to your property, call 911. Residents with questions can toll-free 1-866-246-0133. More information is available at the Emergency Management Division web site www.scemd.org .


8:50 a.m.

The National Weather Service has posted flood warnings for rivers in northeastern South Carolina after Hurricane Matthew dumped as much as 15 inches of rain.

Forecasters said that as of Monday night the Little Pee Dee River at Gallivants Ferry in Horry County was seven feet above flood stage and record flooding is predicted there. Major flooding is also forecast along the Waccamaw River in Conway.

The Lynches River at Effingham in Florence County was more than three feet above flood stage while the Black River at Kingstree was more than four feet above flood and extensive flooding is forecast in both areas.

Forecasters say people along the rivers should take precautions to protect life and property.

Flood warnings have been issued for rivers in the Charleston and Orangeburg areas although flooding is not expected to be as extensive.


8:10 a.m.

Gov. Nikki Haley plans a noon news conference to update South Carolina residents on the recovery from Hurricane Matthew.

She will be speaking to reporters at the state’s Emergency Management Division headquarters Tuesday.

All coastal evacuations have been lifted and people are returning to counties along the coast, but hundreds of thousands of electric customers remain without power.

The attention now is turning to the Pee Dee where rising flood waters have forced people from their homes and are blocking roads and streets.

Most schools and government offices in that region remain closed.


7:50 a.m.

Power is slowly flowing back to South Carolina homes and businesses left in the dark after Hurricane Matthew hammered the state.

Utility company outage maps show that as of early Tuesday, just over 300,000 customers across the state remain without power. That’s down from about 400,000 late Monday and down from the total of about 850,000 customers who lost power during last weekend’s storm.

It’s expected to be several days before power is restored.

In the Pee Dee, rising flood waters are hampering efforts to get electricity flowing.


7:30 a.m.

Things are returning to normal in South Carolina following Hurricane Matthew - in some places.

Rush hour traffic was busy as usual in Charleston for the first time since last week. Most Charleston County schools are reopening, although some won’t open until later this week because of power and other problems. A school on Edisto Island may be closed for up to 10 days.

But other schools, including those in Beaufort and Horry counties, remain closed as do a number of school districts in the Pee Dee where rivers are overflowing their banks because of the torrential rains from Matthew. Some areas in the Pee Dee received as much as 15 inches of rain.

State government offices in nine counties in the Pee Dee and Beaufort area remain closed.

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