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Heavy rain causes traffic woes, flooding concerns

Posted: January 14, 2014 3:05 p.m.
Updated: January 15, 2014 5:00 a.m.

With steady rainfall and occasional heavy downpours Friday and Saturday, officials in Kershaw County reported traffic problems and concerns about flooding along area rivers and Lake Wateree. The National Weather Service (NWS) reported 3.55 inches of rain measured Friday and Saturday at a weather station 4.2 miles northeast of Camden.

Camden Public Works Director Tom Couch said there was minor street flooding during the worst downpours, but no serious problems.

“We had nothing out of the ordinary,” Couch said. “Obviously it was real wet, but there weren’t any real problems except for the localized street flooding when it was coming down the hardest. It takes an hour to two hours to clear out, but it was all normal.”

Kershaw County Emergency Manager Gene Faulkenberry, however, said motorists were affected by the rains.

“Dirt roads out in the county had some washed out places, the extensive runoff had some cars getting stuck,” Faulkenberry said. “The puddling on the roads also caused numerous wrecks in the county.”

Duke Energy Progress (DEP) spokesman Luke Currin said power outages were reported across the state, but were quickly addressed.

“We don’t have numbers county by county, but across South Carolina we restored 6,700 total outages. We considered that a manageable number,” Currin said. “We restored 50,000 outages within the first 12 hours of the polar vortex event last week. Not all at once, but some would go out and be restored and then others would go out. It was a cycling thing.”

DEP’s Lisa Hoffman said the company has the Wateree Dam at full flow to help lower the water level.

“We’ve got all of our available units running to let the water out. The only way to let it out is through generation of electricity,” Hoffman said. “There are no gates, and when it goes over 100 feet, it goes over the spillway. We do our best to minimize impacts on people who live along the lake and the rivers.”

The NWS reported flood watches and warnings remained in effect for several days after the rain left the area, as upstream water continued to pour into local rivers and lakes.

Lake Wateree was at 100.7 feet Monday afternoon, just above the flood stage of 100 feet. Forecasters predicted it would begin dropping Monday night. Tuesday morning it was down to 100.2 feet. Additional rain fell in the county Tuesday, but the NWS said it was not expected to add to the flood risk.

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