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Fripp Island, government offices reopen

Fripp Island (Beaufort County Sheriffs Office)

Residents and property owners who evacuated Fripp Island as Hurricane Matthew approached are returning to the Beaufort County resort island.

The Island Packet of Hilton Head Island reports (http://bit.ly/2deMKlT) that power was restored to the island on Wednesday night and residents were allowed back in Thursday morning. It was the last island in the county where access was still restricted after the storm.

The storm downed trees and tossed around docks but there did not appear to be extensive structural damage to homes on the island.

Contractors working to repair damaged infrastructure on Fripp were also allowed onto the island on Thursday. Contractors hired to repair damage to individual homes are being allowed to enter the gated island on Friday.

For the first time since Hurricane Matthew approached the state last week, South Carolina state government offices in all of the state's 46 counties are open for business.

The State Emergency Management Division reports that state offices in Williamsburg County, which had been closed on Wednesday, are opening again on Thursday. That is the last county where offices reopened.

But schools remain closed in two dozen districts in the state's northeastern corner and near the state's southern tip. Several other districts were opening on delayed schedules on Thursday.

Twelve evacuation shelters remain open, most of them in the Pee Dee where, in some areas, flood waters continue to rise.

Hurricane Matthew has brought record flooding to some areas of South Carolina.

The National Weather Service reports the Little Pee Dee River near Galivants Ferry in Horry County has broken a flood record set almost 90 years ago.

That area is largely rural but the rising waters were even affecting homes built above the ground on stilts. The river is expected to start receding Thursday.

The Waccamaw River in Conway is not expected to reach its peak until early next week. The rising water has flooded the Conway Marina and could wash over railroad trestles in town.

Farther south, the Edisto River northwest of Charleston was expected to reach its peak Friday morning. Forecasters said major flooding would affect homes and cabins in the largely rural area and cut off some homes near the river.

Meanwhile, transportation officials in South Carolina say more roads are being reopened.

The transportation department said early Thursday that nearly 1,600 employees were working on problems caused by the storm. There were 235 roads and 28 bridges still closed.

Crews are clearing debris and replacing signs knocked down by the storm. Traffic signals are being restored but in some cases the lights are not working because of power outages.

Inspectors are working to make sure bridges did not suffer structural damage.

The department said drawbridges on the Intracoastal Waterway in Charleston are working. Those in Horry and Beaufort counties are not because of power problems.

Officials say some roads are still dangerous because of debris. Other road closures are possible because of flooding.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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