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South Carolina flooding: Rain stops, but death toll rises as 18 dams breach

By Valerie Edwards

The death toll has risen as 18 dams have breached or failed completely causing massive flooding and mandatory evacuation for several counties, according to the South Carolina Emergency Management Division.

At least 13 people have died in weather-related incidents, including 11 in South Carolina and two in North Carolina.

In South Carolina, seven people drowned and four died in traffic accidents, according to the state's department of public safety.

North Carolina reported two deaths from traffic accidents, in Cumberland and Jackson Counties.

President Barack Obama has declared eight South Carolina counties a federal disaster, including three in the Midlands: Lexington, Orangeburg, and Richland. Other counties could also get help with public assistance.

In a statement, Governor Nikki Haley said people should expect more counties will be added to that list in the coming weeks. The money would cover, in part, losses not taken care of by insurance companies.

More than 40,000 residents have no water and 26,000 have no power and the mayor of Columbia is bracing for even more trouble.

Mayor Steve Benjamin said Monday that he believes things will get worse before they get better, according to CNN.

He said: "I anticipate that damage will probably be in the billions of dollars and we're going to have to work to rebuild. Some peoples' lives as they know them will never be the same."

Several items have drifted away in the flood waters, but nothing was more disturbing than to see caskets unearthed from a South Carolina cemetery.

Paster Wayne Reeves of New Life Ministries in Summerville was in the middle of an interview with CNN affiliate WCBD when he saw a casket float away. He then headed into the waist-deep floodwater to retrieve it.

He told WCBD: "That's somebody's family out there. This family doesn't want to sit on the edge of this road all night long watching their family members bob in the water like that."

River levels are expected to rise for the rest of the week and there is also the threat of displaced wildlife in some sections of the state, such as snakes and alligators.

More deaths may still be reported as officials go door-to-door to check on residents.

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