Storm Brings Misery to South Carolina 10/04 11:21
A dangerous rainstorm drenching the East Coast brought more misery Sunday to
South Carolina -- cutting power to thousands, forcing hundreds of water rescues
and closing "too many roads to name" because of floodwaters.
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- A dangerous rainstorm drenching the East Coast
brought more misery Sunday to South Carolina --- cutting power to thousands,
forcing hundreds of water rescues and closing "too many roads to name" because
Early Sunday, emergency management officials sent a statewide alert telling
people to stay off roads and remain indoors unless their homes were in danger
of flooding. Interstates were closed by flooding in several spots --- including
a 75-mile stretch of I-95 in the eastern part of the state --- and nearly
30,000 customers were without power.
The region around the state capital of Columbia was being hit particularly
hard, with the city's police department tweeting: "Too many roads to name that
are flooded. Please heed our warning! DO NOT venture out!"
The county government said 100 people had been rescued from vehicles after
trying to cross flooded roads, while state officials reported a total of 200
swift-water rescues around the state. Columbia police said another 200 rescue
calls were pending as of midmorning.
Local news showed dramatic images of flooding around the city, including
rescuers wading into waist-deep water to help drivers trapped at a busy
intersection. Elsewhere, emergency personnel on boats were shown taking people
from a Columbia apartment complex where water covered the roofs of vehicles in
the parking lot. Downtown, Gills Creek was 10 feet above flood stage, causing
heavy flooding that nearly reached the stoplights at a four-lane intersection.
Emergency shelters were being opened around the state for displaced
The Columbia area received the most rain in the state overnight, with up to
14 inches reported in some places since Saturday, forecasters said. To the
southeast, meanwhile, rainfall had exceeded two feet since Friday in some areas
around Charleston, though conditions had improved enough that residents and
business owners were allowed back into the waterlogged downtown on a limited
The South Carolina Highway Patrol responded to more than 300 collisions
around the state in the 12 hours leading up to 6 a.m. It cleared nearly 140
trees from roads.
President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency in South Carolina and
ordered federal aid to bolster state and local efforts.
At least five weather-related deaths have been reported since rains began
spreading over the Eastern Seaboard, which appeared to dodge the full fury of
Hurricane Joaquin that's veering out to sea.
The steady downpour around the Southeast has drawn tropical moisture from
offshore that's linked up with an area of low pressure and a slow-moving front.
Heavy rain was expected to continue in the Carolinas and parts of northern
Georgia, the National Weather Service said.
The low-pressure system also was expected to whip up stiff northeasterly
winds in the Blue Ridge mountains of the Carolinas and western Virginia with
gusts up to 35 mph through Sunday, the weather service said. Increased winds
held the prospect of toppling trees in waterlogged soil.
High winds toppled a tree that hit a vehicle and killed a passenger Thursday
near Fayetteville, North Carolina. Three people died in separate
weather-related traffic accidents in South Carolina on Friday and Saturday, the
Highway Patrol said. A drowning in Spartanburg, South Carolina, also was linked
to the storm.
Along South Carolina's coast, officials in Georgetown were not letting
people into the city Sunday because of flooding of several feet on some roads
in the waterfront historic district.
To the south, Charleston County 911 operators received 300 calls for
assistance in a two-hour period Saturday night. Two mobile home parks in North
Charleston were evacuated because rising floodwaters forced crews to cut off
The downtown Charleston peninsula, which includes the city's historic
district, has been reopened on a limited basis for residents and business
owners after it was closed to incoming traffic Saturday.
"The peak is past, that's for sure, but there will still be periods of heavy
rain that will continue into tonight," National Weather Service meteorologist
Peter Mohlin said of the Charleston area.
In the Greenville area 100 miles northwest of Columbia, some were venturing
out for necessities despite the warnings.
Michael Robertson, 54, was grabbing a pack of cigarettes at a gas station on
Sunday after staying home all of the previous day.
"I had to leave the house," he said. "When I got up, I didn't know what to
expect. I saw flooding all over the state, but after driving around a little
bit, I think we dodged a bullet here."