By Mary-Margaret Schmidt, WVUA 23 Staff

Relief operations and evacuations in South Carolina continue as much of the state remains underwater. Damages are estimated to top over a billion dollars and at least 15 people have died. Many dams throughout the state continue to show signs of instability.

Around 20 inches of rain fell last weekend in parts of the state destabilizing many of the fragile dams. At least 35 dams are currently being monitored throughout the state. Of those, 11 have failed since the heavy rain on Saturday. The Beaver Creek Dam, which officials had warned was on the brink of failure, has been stabilized.

South Carolina’s Governor Nikki Haley said she believes residents should work together to help relief efforts.

“This is a time of faith, this is a time of strength, and this is a time of taking care of each other, and neighbors taking care of neighbors,” Haley said. “If we do that, we will come out of this better than we have before.”

Hundreds of National Guard members are in Columbia to assist with mitigation efforts. Helicopters have been flying over the area, dropping sandbags and equipment to repair dams since hundreds of roads and highways are closed.

Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin said that it will take the state a long time to recover from the flooding.

“It’s going to take some while, a while for us to get back to where we are, but the collective effort we’ve had from the state, local, and federal officials leading on this issue,” Benjamin said. “I’m convinced we’ll get there sooner than we expect.”

The National Guard is not alone in the effort to help displaced people. Residents of upstate South Carolina are stepping up to support affected communities by donating food, water and toys to help displaced neighbors.

A local volunteer saw an opportunity to help their community and those that needed supplies.

“I read in the news this morning that they had a really urgent need,” said the volunteer. “I didn’t hesitate to kind of drop everything and put as much water as I could in my car and delivered it as soon as I could.”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency continues to assess the damage throughout South Carolina. Residents across the state remain hopeful in all relief efforts.

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