Dam Danger: South Carolina crews checking flood levels 'minute by minute'

NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!

Officials across South Carolina were monitoring the state's historic flood levels "minute by minute" Tuesday, according to Gov. Nikki Haley, as crews work to protect several dams from potentially catastrophic breaches.

More than a dozen dams have burst across the state. Some of the breaches forced officials to evacuate neighborhoods east of Columbia from the rushing water. A solid week of rainfall has sent nearly 1,000 people to shelters, and left about 40,000 without drinkable water.

At a press conference Tuesday, Gov.  Haley warned residents not to become complacent because several rivers still have not crested after the historic rains.

She says there could still be some evacuations along some coastal areas of the state over the next 48 hours.

The governor also says more than 800 people are currently staying in shelters.

"This was kind of the perfect storm."

— John Shelton, U.S. Geological Survey

More On This...

South Carolina's geography and battered infrastructure left several towns and cities like islands after roads washed out and creeks topped bridges.

Richland County Coroner Gary Watts on Tuesday said that the body of 30-year-old Sampson Pringle was recovered from a lake on Tuesday morning. Watts says there had been flooding in the area where Pringle's body was recovered.

Watts did not say how Pringle died. The flooding has killed 15 people in South Carolina, and two others in North Carolina.

As many as 40,000 homes have no water service, and those with service have been told to boil the water for at least one minute before using it for drinking or cooking. Columbia mayor Steve Benjamin says that order is likely to be in effect for "quite some time."

John Shelton of the U.S. Geological Survey says flooding can be a concern for any urban area, with an abundance of concrete covering soil that would otherwise act as a sponge.

But the multitude of waterways in Columbia also makes the city a prime target, as rainwater flowing toward a creek or river gets waylaid on roadways.

"The fact is that we're getting six months' worth of rain in two days that's falling in an urbanized area," Shelton said. "This was kind of the perfect storm."

The state Department of Transportation said nearly 500 roads and bridges were still closed Tuesday morning. Many of those were in the Columbia area, which registered record rainfall this week.

A 90-mile stretch of Interstate 95 was still closed between Interstates 20 and 26 due to flooding and overall poor road conditions. Officials are warning residents not to try to drive through or around standing water and debris that have covered many roadways.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.