COLUMBIA — Some South Carolinians who were out of work because of Hurricane Florence can apply for unemployment benefits.
Residents of Dillon, Horry, Marion, Marlboro and Chesterfield counties are eligible for disaster relief payments through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The assistance ranges from $130 to $326 weekly, depending on a person's income, for up to five months, the Department of Employment and Workforce said Tuesday.
The federal agency amended its emergency disaster declaration specifically for those counties. Other counties may be added as damage assessments continue.
The floodwaters are still rising in Horry and Georgetown counties. The rivers overwhelmed by the feet of rain Florence dumped over the Carolinas more than a week ago all eventually empty into the Atlantic Ocean at Winyah Bay by Georgetown.
Those eligible for the benefits include people who couldn't get to their job because of the flooding, self-employed South Carolinians and small business owners who lost money because of the disaster, and people injured in the disaster. People in the five counties have until Oct. 24 to apply through the state Department of Employment and Workforce. People generally receive their first payment two weeks after applying.
Here's the latest by-the-numbers look at Florence's aftermath:
There were still widespread road closures on primary and secondary roads throughout the Pee Dee as of Tuesday afternoon, but in areas where flood waters have receded, crews have begun to make repairs to damaged roadways, according to the state Department of Transportation.
A flood barrier along U.S. 501 in Conway, where the Waccamaw should crest Wednesday, is complete. The 1.5-mile barrier, made up of thousands of one-ton sandbags, has allowed one lane to remain open in both directions, keeping a route to Myrtle Beach open.
Another kind of flood barrier, called an AquaDam, is installed along U.S. 17 at a key gateway to Georgetown. Those barriers consist of water-filled tubes. DOT engineer Leland Colvin says the agency chose different methods based on the elevation. But DOT Secretary Christy Hall warns her agency's efforts probably won't be enough to keep U.S. 17 open there.
"We're trying to keep this road open as long as we can," she said Monday while standing in front of the bridge that crosses over the Great Pee Dee and Waccamaw rivers. "This road will have to close at some point."
U.S. 701 north of Georgetown may close in the next day or so.
Hemingway said U.S. 521, on the other side of the city, may become the city's "lifeline." A section of that highway, west of the city — which also doubles as part of U.S. 17 Alternate — is down to one lane in each direction while the DOT builds a flood barrier there. That work began Monday evening.
There were 148 road and bridge closures in the Pee Dee as of 4 p.m. Tuesday, down from more than 230 a week ago.
The status of major routes such as U.S. 501, U.S. 17 and S.C. 22 are expected to change frequently.
Interstate 95 is open in both directions throughout the Carolinas, allowing traffic to flow for the major East Coast artery.
The state Department of Transportation has an online, real-time map of flooding-related closures.
Pee Dee rivers were above flood stage in at least three locations monitored by the National Weather Service.
The Waccamaw River in Conway was more than 10 feet over its banks Tuesday morning and is expected to continue to rise through Wednesday. The forecasted high of 22 feet would be more than 4 feet above the record set after Hurricane Floyd in 1999. Water levels are expected to stay above that record for days.
The Little Pee Dee near Galivants Ferry is still at major flood levels, 5 feet above flood stage. But it's receded by several feet after cresting Friday just above the previous record.
The Great Pee Dee River near Pee Dee in Marion County is considered to be moderately flooding at nearly 7 feet above flood stage. It's steadily receded since cresting Friday at almost 32 feet, which was near a record high.
On Monday afternoon, 11 emergency shelters were open — one for people with special medical needs and 10 for the general population. Nearly 220 people total were staying in the shelters: 103 at the single shelter open in Marion County and 116 across seven shelters in Horry County, according to the Department of Social Services.
The number of storm-related fatalities across South Carolina stands at nine.