S. Carolina Ordeal Far From Over 10/06 06:13
South Carolina was expecting sunshine Tuesday after days of inundation, but
it will still take weeks for the state to return to normal after being pummeled
by a historic rainstorm.
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- South Carolina was expecting sunshine Tuesday after
days of inundation, but it will still take weeks for the state to return to
normal after being pummeled by a historic rainstorm.
Even as the rain tapered off, officials warned of the likelihood of new
evacuations --- such as one ordered Monday afternoon in one of two towns east
of downtown Columbia where two dams were breached.
The governor warned communities downstream that a mass of water was working
its way through waterways toward the low-lying coast --- bringing the potential
for more flooding and more displaced residents.
"This is not over. Just because the rain stops does not mean that we are out
of the woods," Gov. Nikki Haley said Monday.
South Carolina's geography and poor spending on infrastructure left several
town and cities like islands after roads washed out and creeks topped bridges.
One of those cut-off communities was Manning, the county seat of Clarendon
County, about 60 miles southeast of Columbia.
"I fear the worst is to come. We have a power substation under water. No
telling when that thing gets fixed," Clarendon County Sheriff Randy Garrett
At least 10 weather-related deaths in South Carolina and two in North
Carolina were blamed on the vast rainstorm, including those of five people who
drowned in their cars in Columbia alone. A solid week of rainfall also sent
about 1,000 to shelters and left about 40,000 without drinkable water.
Much-feared Hurricane Joaquin missed the East Coast, but fueled what experts
at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration called a "fire hose" of
tropical moisture that aimed directly at the state. By Monday, the heaviest
rains had moved into the mid-Atlantic states, but not before making history in
The 16.6 inches of rain that fell at Gills Creek near downtown Columbia on
Sunday made for one of the rainiest days recorded at a U.S. weather station in
more than 16 years.
John Shelton of the U.S. Geological Survey says flooding can be a concern
for any urban area, with an abundance of concrete covering soil that would
otherwise act as a sponge for excessive rains.
But the multitude of waterways in Columbia also makes the city a prime
target for flooding, as rainwater seeking to flow into a creek or river gets
waylaid on the city's roadways.
"The fact is that we're getting six months' worth of rain in two days that's
falling in an urbanized area," Shelton said. "This was kind of the perfect
The governor has said the deluge is the kind of storm seen only once in
The state Department of Transportation said nearly 500 roads and bridges
were still closed Tuesday morning. Many of those were in the Columbia area. A
90-mile stretch of Interstate 95 was still closed between Interstates 20 and 26
due to flooding and overall poor road conditions.
Officials warned residents not to try to drive through or around standing
water and debris that have covered many roadways.
Complicating the problem is that the infrastructure was already in bad shape
in places. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, 1,048 of the
9,275 bridges were structurally deficient before this storm.
Power had been restored to thousands of residents. South Carolina Electric
and Gas said less than 1,000 residents were without power early Tuesday
morning. Duke Energy said only a handful of its customers were still waiting
for electricity to come back on.
The flooding forced hundreds of weekend rescues and threatened the drinking
water supply for Columbia, with officials warning some could be without potable
water for days because of water main breaks. The capital city told all 375,000
of its water customers to boil water before drinking.
Officials brought in bottled water and portable restrooms for the 31,000
students at the University of South Carolina, and firefighters used a
half-dozen trucks and pumps to ferry hundreds of thousands of gallons of water
to Palmetto Health Baptist Hospital.
In another downstream area, Lake City, the flooding left a brown four-door
sedan bobbing with its hood angled down at the road leading to Lake City High
School, the site of a Red Cross shelter that housed more than 100 people
Monday. Lisa Singletary, 34, trudged past the waterlogged car through water
about 4 feet deep to reach the shelter after her sister's ground-floor
apartment was inundated.
Singletary grabbed her three children, ages 1, 4 and 16, and her sister's
three children, ages 9 to 18, and pushed through the grimy water after sunset
Sunday, she said. She and her sister, Mary Singletary, then returned for
everything they could carry.
"We had to really wade in the water. ... We had to hold the kids up from
really getting wet and everything," said Singletary, who was visiting for the
weekend from nearby Johnsonville.
The two women filled plastic trash bags with "toothpaste, toothbrush, wash
cloths, towels, blankets, pillows, clothes, socks, shoes," Singletary said. "We
brought everything that we could have brought."
Back in the Columbia area, James Shirer saw the dam along Rockyford Lake in
the town of Forest Acres fail Monday, causing the 22-acre lake to drain in 10
to 15 minutes.
"It just poured out," Shirer said.
The lakes and ponds got so high, the dams couldn't take it anymore, Shirer
said. Speaking of the rains, he said, "They've wrecked the dams; they've ruined
all of the bridges. This one lake has already gone from topping over this
bridge to where it's emptying out."
As he spoke, water rushed through where the dam once was and a military
helicopter circled overhead.
"It's devastating for Columbia," he said. "It's one of the worst things