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Hurricane Matthew leaves 2 dead in SC, officials say

Edisto Beach police said they are continuing the evacuation due to storm damage that is causing some residents who stayed during the hurricane to now leave. The police department reported there is no electricity or water, and roads are impassable.

“Due to the damage we suffered and the hazards that still exist, we are continuing the evacuation for the beach at this time. We hope to expedite your return but please bear with us for a while longer,” the department said on Facebook.

One person trapped in a car in Florence on became the first fatality in South Carolina from Hurricane Matthew.

The news came Sunday morning during Gov. Nikki Haley’s briefing about recovery from Hurricane Matthew.

The person, who has not been identified, was reportedly trying to cross a road in a vehicle Saturday when the vehicle was swept away, Haley said. Other details were not available.

Meanwhile, a resident of a Richland County skilled nursing center died from what Coroner Gary Watts said is a hurricane-related drowning.

David Outlaw, 66, drowned in a rain puddle outside his residence at National Health Care in the 7600 block of Parklane Road in Northeast Richland, Watts said.

Outlaw was found face down pinned beneath a wheelchair shortly before 8 a.m. Saturday, Watts said.

There have been at least 15 hurricane related deaths reported so far in Florida, Georgia and North Carolina, according to the Associated Press.

Haley said state emergency officials have done five high-water rescues in the Fripp Island area and one medical transport, and answered nearly 3,000 calls for service with more than 1,100 of them vehicle related.

All the residents of Daufuskie Island, who mostly decided to ride out the storm there, were accounted for, Haley said, adding that the barrier island did suffer some structural damages.

Haley said with good weather expected next week, recovery will continue to restore power, reopen roads and assess damage.

Two rivers are a concern later in the week for flooding, Haley said: Waccamaw, expected to be at 16.7 feet by the end of the week from 14 feet now; and the Little Pee Dee at Gallivants Ferry, expected to hit 13.1 feet by the end of the week from 11 feet now.

Evacuations have been lifted immediately in Berkeley, Colleton, Charleston and Dorchester counties. But assessments are ongoing in Beaufort, Jasper, Georgetown and Horry counties, Haley said, adding that state officials are working with local governments and law enforcement and going on those local recommendations in helping to determine when to lift evacuations.

When to lift areas still under curfew is being assessed with local officials too, Haley said.

Some areas of the Lowcountry were especially hard hit, Haley said. Conditions in Beaufort County are improving but still have debris, flooding and drainage issues, Haley said, adding that Jasper faces the same challenges.

Beaufort Memorial Hospital suffered flooding and structural damage.

Horry and Georgetown officials say they’re just starting damage assessments, since they didn’t have much daylight to get out after the storm hit later Saturday, Haley said, but added evacuation orders could be lifted in those areas as soon as Monday.

“We understand a lot of people are going to continue to try to go home today whether the evacuations are lifted or not,” but she added that residents may be denied access to their roads and may be returning to homes without electricity or with power lines down or trees blocking roads.

If returning to a county that has not lifted an evacuation, “know that you are going at your own risk,” she said.

Power outages are still a challenge, officials said. Just over 11,000 people were still without power in Richland County and nearly 2,400 in Lexington County as of late Sunday morning.

All interstates statewide are reopened – including I-95 – but not all primary SC roads have reopened, officials said. More than 284 roads and 20-plus bridges remained closed early Sunday morning, according to SCDOT.

Bridge inspections are ongoing Sunday, Haley said.

DOT Secretary Christy Hall said the bridges heading to Hilton Head have been inspected and are safe. Hall said DOT has cleared down to the hospital on 278 and is “making our final push” onto the island with debris removal.

Haley urged patience as people return to evacuated areas, adding that there likely will be heavy traffic on some routes.

The state has 76 shelters still open, housing more than 4,000 residents.

Schools and county offices in Beaufort, Jasper, Charleston and Dorchester are closed Monday.

There are still more than 746,000 power outages in the state, down more than 120,000 from Saturday, Haley said, adding that utility workers are “working as hard and as fast as they can to get everybody’s power back up.”

Staff writer Tim Flach contributed to this story.

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