Columbia crippled by historic flooding

COLUMBIA, SC – The South Carolina National Guard is trying to bolster a major breach in a waterway near Columbia and is working with local officials to try to help keep other smaller dams in the state’s flooded regions from bursting.

South Carolina National Guard commander Maj. Gen. Robert Livingston said Tuesday’s planned operation involved helicopters dropping 1-ton sandbags from Chinook helicopters on a break between a canal and the Congaree river in Columbia.

“These are big sandbags,” the two-star general told reporters at the Emergency Management Division headquarters outside Columbia.

The general said one dam that was getting their attention was the dam in Orangeburg, but that efforts to alleviate pressure with regulated water releases seemed to be working.

The state is trying to recover and dry out after days of heavy and historic rains.

While much of Columbia has been crippled by historic flooding, the sprawling University of South Carolina has not been hit nearly as hard.

Classes have been canceled, but the dorms on campus still have electricity and Wi-Fi. Students can still flush the toilet and shower, and the school is handing out free bottled water.

The campus covers 480 acres in downtown Columbia populated by nearly 33,000 students and 6,000 faculty and staff – practically a small city within the state’s capital city.

Spokesman Jeff Stensland says flood damage is limited, though the university remains under an advisory to boil water.

Some students have been working to help others, such as Cory Alpert, who with friends organized a list of more than 1,700 volunteers for the city and charities like the United Way.

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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