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Flooding sweeps East amid 'mind-boggling' rains USA TODAY

Flooding sweeps East amid 'mind-boggling' rains

Written by  Oct 05, 2015
South Carolina's weather disaster intensified Sunday as "historic" rainfall up to 2 feet in some areas combined with high winds to strand motorists and residents and force hundreds of evacuations and rescues.   The rain was forecast to continue deep into Monday in some parts of the state. Overnight curfews were in effect beginning at 6 p.m. Sunday in Columbia, Sumter and several counties.   Gov. Nikki Haley said South Carolina's first responders were battling flooding from rains that can be expected once in 1,000 years.   "Our goal is all hands on deck," Haley said of the emergency response. "We will get through this, but we need everyone to stay strong."   The National Weather Service's Charleston office reported "mind-boggling rain amounts." They included 24-plus inches in Mount Pleasant, a suburb of Charleston, since the storm began Thursday. Columbia recorded more than 10 inches.   Haley said three deaths have been tied to the storm that has hovered over the state. She said first responders received more than 750 rescue calls in a 12-hour period that started before dawn Sunday. Hundreds of road closures were reported, including a section of Interstate 95, the vital highway connecting eastern states from Maine to Florida.   Haley said 600 National Guard personnel have been called out, with hundreds more on alert. And she warned residents not to plan on getting out until Tuesday to ease the burden on rescue personnel.   President Obama approved federal disaster aid for South Carolina.   AccuWeather senior meteorologist Dan Pydynowski called it the worst overall weather event in the state since Hurricane Hugo, which made landfall near Charleston as a Category 4 storm in 1989, killing 27 people in the state.   "Charleston got 11.5 inches of rain on Saturday, which is a one-day record," Pydynowski said. "Today Columbia is setting records." In Mount Pleasant, Sarah Shinners said her home was above the waterline — but the only road out of her neighborhood was impassable.   "Everything around us is completely flooded. It's terrible," Shinners told USA TODAY. "We are just hunkering down."   Much of the East Coast has been saturated by rains that have lingered since Thursday. Power was knocked out to about 50,000 residences and businesses in South Carolina and Georgia as of Sunday afternoon.   "Major to localized catastrophic flash flooding along with possible landslides and mudslides in the higher elevations of South Carolina and Georgia remain an ongoing concern," the National Weather Service warned.   Flood warnings also were issued for three Virginia counties. North Carolina also was dealing with flash flooding on some secondary roads, and some ferry services were canceled. But South Carolina was taking the brunt of the unrelenting storm.   Chris Morris is one of the lucky ones in his Charleston neighborhood. He said many neighbors have evacuated, but his family's home is on a raised slab and hasn't been breached. He lives on a golf course, but you would not know that by looking at it.   "We woke up this morning to about 10 inches of water surrounding the house," Morris told USA TODAY. "And the golf course is completely under water."   The weather service blamed a low pressure system that has stalled over the state since Thursday, combined with the outer edges of Hurricane Joaquin. The Category 2 hurricane, with sustained top winds of 105 mph, avoided a direct hit to the U.S. but did add fuel to rains and high wind along the coast. Joaquin was forecast to lash Bermuda late Sunday and Monday.   South Carolina emergency management officials counseled residents to "remain where you are if you are safely able to do so. Call 911 for life-threatening emergencies."     In Mount Pleasant, Sarah Shinners said her home was above the waterline — but the only road out of her neighborhood was impassable.   "Everything around us is completely flooded. It's terrible," Shinners told USA TODAY. "We are just hunkering down."   Much of the East Coast has been saturated by rains that have lingered since Thursday. Power was knocked out to about 50,000 residences and businesses in South Carolina and Georgia as of Sunday afternoon.   "Major to localized catastrophic flash flooding along with possible landslides and mudslides in the higher elevations of South Carolina and Georgia remain an ongoing concern," the National Weather Service warned.   Flood warnings also were issued for three Virginia counties. North Carolina also was dealing with flash flooding on some secondary roads, and some ferry services were canceled. But South Carolina was taking the brunt of the unrelenting storm.   Chris Morris is one of the lucky ones in his Charleston neighborhood. He said many neighbors have evacuated, but his family's home is on a raised slab and hasn't been breached. He lives on a golf course, but you would not know that by looking at it.   "We woke up this morning to about 10 inches of water surrounding the house," Morris told USA TODAY. "And the golf course is completely under water."   The weather service blamed a low pressure system that has stalled over the state since Thursday, combined with the outer edges of Hurricane Joaquin. The Category 2 hurricane, with sustained top winds of 105 mph, avoided a direct hit to the U.S. but did add fuel to rains and high wind along the coast. Joaquin was forecast to lash Bermuda late Sunday and Monday.   South Carolina emergency management officials counseled residents to "remain where you are if you are safely able to do so. Call 911 for life-threatening emergencies."   In Columbia, fire officials said several dams had breached. WLTX-TV meteorologist Jim Gandy said the Village of Sandhill had received 11 inches of rain by 6 a.m. On I-95 in Clarendon County, a 32-mile stretch of road was closed. Parts of Interstate 77 and Interstate 20 also were covered in water.   Columbia Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins told WLTX-TV that the city has been inundated with rescue calls.   "We do need more resources," Jenkins said. "People who can't get out should call 9-1-1. Don't give up, keep trying."
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