President Obama Saturday declared an emergency in South Carolina due to severe storms and flooding in portions of the state, and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts. A boil water advisory and low water pressure last night in the Columbia area forced five hospitals to get water from the fire department, according to the South Carolina Hospital Association. The hospitals remain open but are prepared to transport up to 100 of the most fragile patients to other facilities if necessary, the association said. Steve Shelton, M.D., health emergency management director for Palmetto Health, told WLTX in Columbia, “We had a lot of dedicated individuals who stayed overnight. Everybody is stepping up and providing a great job providing the quality service that we want.” Charleston-area hospitals also are dealing with staff shortages due to transportation and road closures in the area, where unusually high coastal tides have forced employees to stay over and hospitals to move services and implement other actions on the fly. “They’ve also extended offers of help to the Columbia-areas hospitals, including supplies and transfers of patients as needed, even as they endured several days of continuous stress,” SCHA said.