The flooding caused by unprecedented rainfall in South Carolina has killed 11 people. More than two feet (60cm) of rain have fallen in the past three days in parts of the state.

South Carolina floods
A church is engulfed by floodwaters in Columbia, South CarolinaSean Rayford/Getty Images

"This is a Hugo-level event," said Major Gen. Robert Livingston, head of the South Carolina National Guard, referring to the September 1989 hurricane that devastated Charleston. "This water doesn't fool around."

Hurricane Joaquin missed the East Coast, but fuelled what experts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration called a "fire hose" of tropical moisture aimed directly at the state.

South Carolina floods
Greg Rodermond and Mandy Barnhill use a canoe to move her possessions out of her home on Long Avenue in Conway, South CarolinaRandall Hill/Reuters
South Carolina floods
Chris Stubo looks at the waters surrounding his home on Applewood Court in Myrtle Beach, South CarolinaRandall Hill/Reuters
South Carolina floods
Water covers a flooded section of US 17 South in Murrells Inlet, South CarolinaRandall Hill/Reuters
South Carolina floods
Water rises along Orange Street in Georgetown, South CarolinaRandall Hill/Reuters
South Carolina floods
Emergency rescue teams search for stranded people in the Forest Acres area of ColumbiaSean Rayford/Getty Images
South Carolina floods
Columbia residents Will Brennan, Matt Talley and Tyler Bahnmuller paddle a canoe to investigate the state of their homesSean Rayford/Getty Images

Of the 11 people known to have been killed, seven drowned, the South Carolina Department of Public Safety said. Four others died in weather-related car crashes, the agency said. A state transportation department employee was killed after his work truck was overturned and swept away by rushing waters.

The flooding closed schools and government offices, stranded motorists and led to dramatic rescues, including that of a mother and her 15-month-old baby who were plucked by a US Coast Guard helicopter from their flooded home in Huger, South Carolina.

Some towns have been entirely cut off. All four roads leading into the county seat of Manning are closed, isolating 4,000 people.

South Carolina floods
Victor Sanchez and Jose Quino remove water from the kitchen at El Cerro Grande Mexican restaurant in Georgetown, South CarolinaRandall Hill/Reuters
South Carolina floods
Chuck and Ginger Richardson inspect their flooded Front Street office building in Georgetown, South CarolinaRandall Hill/Reuters
South Carolina floods
Shopkeepers check out their flooded businesses in Myrtle Beach, South CarolinaRandall Hill/Reuters
South Carolina floods
Norman Beauregard, Kevin Attender and Chris Rogers of the Georgetown Fire Department wade along Front Street in Georgetown, South CarolinaRandall Hill/Reuters
South Carolina floods
A National Guard vehicle is driven on a road damaged by recent flash floods in ColumbiaMladen Antonov/AFP
South Carolina floods
A vehicle is submerged in water in the Forest Acres area of ColumbiaSean Rayford/Getty Images
South Carolina floods
Military personnel respond to flooding in the Forest Acres neighbourhoodSean Rayford/Getty Images
South Carolina floods
Officials stand on the broken edge of a road that was washed away by a breach of the Columbia CanalSean Rayford/Getty Images
South Carolina floods
Emergency workers prepare giant sandbags to plug the breach of the Columbia CanalSean Rayford/Getty Images

Officials in Columbia ordered areas south of a breached dam to evacuate. Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said workers are going door-to-door in some areas, ordering people to leave their homes. He said the high water and swollen rivers are breaching dams so quickly that workers are having difficulty keeping up.