COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A rainstorm pounded the East Coast, bringing South Carolina to a standstill. Thousands of people warily watched rising creeks, while others awakened to water spilling into their houses. Some helped save neighbors. The following are vignettes from people in the dangerous storm:
Vladimir Gorrin said he led his 57-year-old aunt through floodwaters surrounding her apartment near Gills Creek — one of the hardest-hit areas in Columbia.
Gorrin said his aunt, Wanda Laboy, waited several hours after calling 911, but authorities did not come. So family came to help.
"She's very distressed right now," said Gorrin, 38. "She lost everything."
More than 18 inches of rain, nearly all of it in 24 hours, fell in the area. It was so bad that hundreds of businesses, homes and apartments flooded.
Gorrin's aunt is heading with him to his house, where it has not flooded, but the drive home was tricky.
"I'm trying to find my way back home, and every road that we've taken is blocked or flooded," he said in a phone interview inside the car with his aunt.
In Florence, about 80 miles east of Columbia, Mary Gainey said she was told Sunday afternoon that she'd have to evacuate her home because of rising floodwaters from a nearby creek.
"I've been rushing around, making sure I have everything I need," said the 65-year-old Gainey.
She's going to stay at her daughter's house until the water recedes.
"This is the first time we've had to be evacuated," she said. "It's strange leaving everything behind."
She said she's worried, but thankful that she had some warning.
"I know God that will take care of us," she said.
From her window, Peggy Capps could see the water from Black Creek pooling in her backyard.
She knows she's going to have to make a decision soon: Evacuate or stay in her home in Florence.
"Everyone has been told they should leave, but I haven't made up my mind," she said.
The 79-year-old Capps lives with her son in a neighborhood that runs along Black Creek. She said they could go into town and stay with a relative. But Capps doesn't want to leave behind her 7-year-old cat, Tiger.
"I'm not sure I would be able to take him and I don't want to leave him here. I don't know how long I would be gone," she said.
She's lived in the same house for 33 years and it's flooded once — in 1996, she said.
Most of her neighbors have left because responders told everyone they'd have a hard time getting into the neighborhood if they needed help.
"It's a tough decision. I don't want to leave. My preacher called everyone this morning saying he's praying for it to go down. I hope his prayers are answered."
Rawlings LaMotte, 38, a residential real estate broker, said an area in front of his gated subdivision in eastern Columbia was filled with up with 5 feet of water.
"It looks like a raging river," LaMotte said. "I've lived in Columbia my entire life, and we always laughed about the 100-year flood plain, but I guess this is what it is."
Earlier Sunday, LaMotte said he and a friend got into a small motorboat and ended up ferrying several people to safety, including a man who had been out of town and found roads to his home blocked.
"I told one of my friends earlier today, this put everything we've seen with Katrina into perspective," LaMotte said. "Until you've experienced something like this, you have no idea how bad it really is."
On the east side of Columbia, a flash flood swept through a neighborhood of brick ranch homes near Gills Creek, which quickly rose to 10 feet over flood stage early Sunday.
"I got up around 6:15 and a neighbor called to tell us we should get out as soon as we can," said Jeff Whalen. "About that point it was about a foot below the door and when we left it was a foot in the house. It came quickly obviously."
Rescue crews evacuated his family on boats and by early afternoon, as crews were still going through the neighborhood to evacuate people, the water was so high the nearest he could get to his house was a block and a half away.
Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Bruce Smith in Charleston, South Carolina; Mitch Weiss in Greenville, S.C.; Jonathan Drew in Durham, N.C.; Jeffrey Collins, Seanna Adcox and Susanne Schafer in Columbia.