Historic South Carolina floods: Heavy rain, hundreds rescued

The National Weather Service is reporting major flooding in the South Carolina capital of Columbia, the result of a unsafe rainstorm drenching parts of the East Coast.

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As Hurrican Joaquin menaces Bermuda, President Obama declared a State of Emergency for the state of South Carolina as the state deals with historic flooding. “This is an extremely unsafe situation in those areas”.

On Sunday, the rain will begin to pivot and slip north and east toward the border of North Carolina and South Carolina and near the coastline.

Persistent torrential rainfall in South Carolina caused unsafe flooding in main cities on Sunday and prompted hundreds of rescues through shoulder-deep waters across the southeastern state. The deaths were blamed on the weather. “Turn around, don’t drown”, it said.

“It takes just 12″ of rushing water to carry away a small auto, 2′ can carry away most vehicles”, the NWS warns residents. Residents and travelers have found themselves trapped in the rapidly rising waters, and the simultaneous calls for help are straining first responders. “About that point it was about a foot below the door and when we left it was a foot in the house”.

“When we built our house nearly 3 years ago, I questioned if we really were in a flood zone. Now I know”, he tweeted along with a photo of the water creeping up his front yard.

“In no way, shape or form are we out of the woods”, said Jim Cantore, storm tracker for The Weather Channel, Sunday morning.

The mayor of Charleston says flooding is worse than Hurricane Hugo in 1989.

Nearly 100 South Carolina roads and bridges were closed due to flooding, state officials said.

“I told one of my friends earlier today, this put everything we’ve seen with Katrina into perspective”, LaMotte said.

Almost 30,000 residents have lost power, the state’s emergency management authority said. Several interstates around Columbia were closed, and so was a 75-mile stretch of Interstate 95 that is a key route connecting Miami to Washington, D.C. and New York. And it comes from two sources.

As heavy thunderstorms moved through the area Saturday night, Charleston County 911 operators received 300 calls for assistance in a two-hour period. Joaquin is expected to push in a storm surge in the Northeast as it passes.

The city towed 75 cars from the water during the storm. Flood watches and warnings also are in effect in Delaware and parts of New Jersey, Maryland and Virginia. With tree roots already loosened in waterlogged soil, increased winds held the prospect of toppling trees onto power lines or property.

Motorists traveling through South Carolina should be aware of road closures and detours they might experience because of the historic rainfall event.

The Midlands were hardest hit overnight, with up to 14 inches of rain dumped on parts of Richland County since midnight Saturday. And up to 4 inches could strike the waterfront between Georgia and New Jersey.

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Vast swaths of U.S. Southeast and mid-Atlantic states were grappling with heavy rains and flooding from a weather system that is separate from Hurricane Joaquin, which is not expected to make landfall on the USA coastline.

Historic South Carolina floods: Heavy rain, hundreds rescued