‘Concentrated’ search-rescue operations Monday

By The Associated Press

The latest on the rainstorm that is pounding parts of the East Coast (all times local):

4:45 a.m.

Days of torrential rains kept much of South Carolina and its capital gripped by floodwaters early Monday as emergency responders promised renewed door-to-door searches for anyone still trapped after a weekend deluge and hundreds of rescues.

At least seven weather-related deaths have been blamed on the rainstorm that has lingered for days and been linked to an unusually deep low pressure system. The storm dumped so much rain on South Carolina and parts of surrounding states that even veteran weather experts called it unprecedented.

Police in Columbia, the capital city, said searchers would go door-to-door in the hardest-hit areas later Monday for any still seeking safety. And it could take weeks or longer to ensure the safety of numerous roads, highways and bridges rendered impassible by a historic rainstorm that pummeled South Carolina.


10:45 p.m.

Police in the flooded South Carolina capital of Columbia say they and other emergency crews will continue with “concentrated search and rescue operations” early Monday.

Columbia Police Chief William Holbrook issued a statement saying the operations would check for any people in the city and nearby Richland County still needing evacuation from flooded areas.

He urged anyone still needing to get to safety to call 911.

“The operation will also include overall welfare checks,” he said, adding crews will mark the front doors of homes checked with a fluorescent orange X once searched.

Anyone found is to be taken out on military vehicles to safety, he added.


8:10 p.m.

Officials with the South Carolina capital city of Columbia say many residents are without drinking water because of water main breaks from the flooding.

Officials say in a news release that greater downtown Columbia and southeast Richland County are most affected. They also say those affected should be prepared to be without potable water from the city system for three to four days.

Earlier, the city issued a boil water advisory for all of its 375,000 customers.


6:30 p.m.

The National Weather Service says rainfall in one area of downtown Columbia, the South Carolina capital, measured nearly 17 inches of rain in 17 hours, and that was while it was still raining.

Meteorologist Chris Rohrbach says the Gills Creek gauge posted the highest amount of rain so far Sunday in an area hit by extensive flooding. He says the rainfall total would be higher by day’s end.

Rohrbach also says a two-day rainfall total of more than 10 inches at the Columbia airport has likely broken a record set in August 1949 – a 48-hour total of 7.7 inches.

The Congaree River, meanwhile, reached nearly 32 feet in downtown Columbia as of 6 p.m. That’s nearly 13 feet above flood stage. Rohrbach says that approaches a record of 33.3 feet set in April 1936.


5 p.m.

South Carolina authorities say a woman was killed when her vehicle was swept into flood waters in Columbia.

Richland County Coroner Gary Watts said the woman’s body was found Sunday afternoon, about 12 hours after she disappeared in flood waters near downtown Columbia.

Watts says he couldn’t release the woman’s name.

The coroner says it was the only known fatality in Richland County, which saw massive floods. Three other deaths in weather-related traffic crashes have been reported in South Carolina since the heavy rain started Friday.


4:30 p.m.

Authorities say a worker with the South Carolina Department of Transpiration who was working along a flooded road is missing.

Officials say the employee was last seen in the capital city of Columbia on Sunday afternoon.

Acting DOT Secretary Christy Hall says she can’t release a lot of information about the missing worker because the search is ongoing.

Helicopters were helping rescuers on the ground try to find the employee.

Columbia Fire Chief Aubry Jenkins says one of his firefighters briefly disappeared while trying to rescue flood victims. The firefighter was located and taken to a hospital.


3 p.m.

Residents in the South Carolina capital of Columbia are being told to boil their water before drinking it – a consequence of the heavy rain that has been battering the state.

The city issued the boil water advisory Sunday afternoon after massive flooding caused a number of water line breaks and the rising water was threatening operations at Columbia’s downtown water treatment plant.

Officials say they are trying to fix the breaks and keep the treatment plant online, but they don’t know when they will be able to lift the advisory, which affects 375,000 customers in Columbia as well as Richland and Lexington counties.

Authorities say boil water for at least a minute before drinking or cooking.


2 p.m.

Officials in South Carolina have closed two major interstate bridges over the Broad River in the state capital of Columbia.

The Interstate 20 and Interstate 126 bridges over the Broad River were closed Sunday afternoon. Authorities did not know when they would be reopened.

Department of Transportation traffic counts show about 100,000 vehicles cross the I-20 bridge every day, and an additional 70,000 vehicles use the I-126 bridge.

The state Department of Transportation says at least 211 state roads and 43 bridges across South Carolina are closed due to record flooding in parts of the state.


1:30 p.m.

The mayor of Charleston, South Carolina, says the flooding that hit the picturesque southern city over the past few days is the worst he has ever seen – even worse that the crippling inundations from Hurricane Hugo.

Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. told The Associated Press that the torrential rain is over and that about an inch of rain or slightly more is forecast for the next 24 hours.

Moderate rainfall and a low tide that is expected Sunday night is raising hopes that the city’s water woes will soon pass.

Riley said he expects city offices to be open Monday.

The city towed 75 cars from the water during the storm.

Riley, mayor for 40 years, says he has never seen flooding as in the past couple of days, not even in the city after Hurricane Hugo in 1989.


11:30 a.m.

Power has mostly been restored to thousands of utility customers in New Jersey who lost their service when strong storms passed through the state in recent days.

The storms also caused minor to moderate flooding in many areas and dislodged an entire house from its pilings in southern Jersey. The heavy rains had mostly ended by late Saturday.

Residents have been dealing with the storms since Wednesday. The weather systems brought drenching rains and strong winds to the region, knocking down trees and power lines.


11 a.m.

South Carolina officials told The Associated Press that there were more than 100 rescues across the state overnight due to heavy rain and flooding.

The state Department of Public Safety says officers responded to 323 accidents between 6 p.m. Saturday and 6 a.m. Sunday. The agency says it has cleared 138 trees in roadways and helped 140 motorists.

Hydrologist Leonard Vaughan says more than 14 inches had fallen in downtown Charleston as of 9 a.m. Sunday.

Meteorologist Peter Mohlin with the National Weather Service in Charleston said that while the rain had diminished in Charleston Sunday morning, there’s a chance of more showers later in the day.


9:40 a.m.

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

Police say officers and firefighters have been rescuing stranded motorists around Columbia. Fire officials said Sunday morning that they had made more than 50 swift-water rescues, and they’re responding to dozens more calls for help.

The police department said there are too many road closures in the area to name and that emergency dispatchers are working hard to keep up with the call volume.

Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin sent a message on Twitter asking residents to: “Please, please stay off of the roads!”

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

10/4/2015 8:53:38 PM (GMT -4:00)

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