Rain Returns to Flooded South Carolina

Rain Returns to Flooded South Carolina

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- After four dry days, rain has returned to South Carolina — but not in the record-breaking amounts seen last week that caused devastating floods.

Thunderstorms in the capital of Columbia made it difficult if not impossible Saturday for residents who were evacuated to get back home to salvage belongings or check on their properties. However, by midmorning, there were no reports of major problems caused by the additional precipitation.

A storm system near the coast this weekend will bring as much as an additional inch of rain to some areas, according to the National Weather Service. The heaviest rain is expected Saturday, although forecasters said it shouldn't be enough to flood any additional areas.

"I didn't want to hear the word rain. But we hope the quantities aren't going to be great," said Georgetown County Administrator Sel Hemingway, where floodwaters from four rivers are converging on the coast.

After the weekend, forecasters predict several more dry days.

There is still flooding in South Carolina. All that water from Columbia continues to move toward the sea, although authorities don't expect the devastating damage that happened when up to 20 inches of rain fell over South Carolina's capital over two days.

Gov. Nikki Haley continued to urge people in Georgetown County and other coastal areas to be vigilant as flood waters rise. No one has had to be evacuated yet, but the water was isolating some homes, and the governor warned emergency officials could start knocking on doors any time.

But the worst may be over even along the coast. The Waccamaw River has crested and the Black River is near crest, Hemingway said Friday afternoon. It will take days or maybe more than a week for the rivers to go below flood stage, but the water should start dropping.

"Crested — I've been waiting for that word to be expressed here for a week," Hemingway said.

In Columbia, officials continued to be heartened by acts of generosity, but warned that tempers were flaring in some places.

Haley started to ask people to be more judicious with donations even as Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said he was infuriated because his deputies had to investigate a state guardsman directing traffic at a food bank intentionally struck by an impatient driver. The guardsman broke his wrist and rib but was expected to survive.

Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook asked people to stay out heavily damaged neighborhoods unless they are coming to help because residents are tired of rubberneckers.

"The residents are physically and mentally tired. We're seeing some tempers flare up. Patience is thin," Holbrook said.

Haley suggested instead of donating bottled water or clothes, anyone who wants to help put on an old outfit and gloves and find somewhere to start helping with the recovery.

"If you want to help, go to those neighborhoods you know have seen trouble — have seen damage — and you can help with clean up," Haley said.

Also on Saturday, a contractor will begin working on shoring up the washed out foundations under some of the 18 small bridges that crisscross two rivers and swamps on a 13-mile closed stretch of Interstate 95 in Clarendon County.

South Carolina Department of Transportation Secretary Christy Hall said Friday she had no estimate when the road which carries 30,000 vehicles a day could reopen. In the meantime, travelers who would normally drive 74 miles between Interstate 26 to Interstate 20 must take a 168-mile detour through Columbia.

(KA)