Rev. Franklin Graham has urged believers to pray for South Carolina as the state continues to struggle with historic flash flooding that has led to at least six deaths, shut down interstates and left many trapped.
"My thoughts and prayers are with the people of South Carolina who are experiencing a catastrophic rain event which experts are calling a 1000-year flood," Rev. Graham wrote in a Facebook post on Monday. Graham, who is the leader of Samaritan's Purse global charity, said that his organization will be responding to the hardest hit areas once the waters recede.
According to the National Weather Service, the storm had dumped more than 20 inches of rain in parts of central South Carolina since Friday, and another 2 to 6 inches are expected through Monday.
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley said parts of the state were hit with rainfall that would be expected to occur once in 1,000 years, with the Congaree River at its highest level since 1936.
"If you are in your house, stay in your house," Haley, holding a news conference, told state residents. "This is not something to be out taking pictures of."
She added, "All you have to do is look out the window and see the flooding. It doesn't take long for you to get in your car and realize you've got to turn back around."
At least six people have died from weather-related incidents and many people remain trapped in their homes, Reuters reports.
In an effort to combat the historic floods, 600 National Guardsmen, 11 aircraft and eight swift water rescue teams are taking part in search and rescue efforts, the governor said. She added that over 200 water rescues took place in the state from Saturday night to Sunday afternoon.
Meanwhile, state emergency officials are urging residents living in areas affected by the flooding to boil their drinking water.
"Rising water from flooding can carry viruses, bacteria, chemicals and other submerged objects picked up as it moves through storm water systems, across industrial sites, yards, roads and parking lots," the South Carolina Emergency Response Team said.
The National Weather Service has also issued a public service announcement video reminding people not to drive through water on streets, no matter how shallow it appears to be.
"Do not attempt to drive into flooded roadways," it said. "It takes just 12 inches of flowing water to carry off a small car. Turn around, don't drown."