COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The epicenter of the massive East Coast rainstorm is Gills Creek, a stream that starts off in a sparsely populated area near a state park north of Columbia. The creek runs through several neighborhoods before emptying into the Congaree River south of town.
On Sunday, Gills Creek turned into a raging torrent of murky brown floodwater that swamped dozens of homes, apartments and businesses. The creek was 10 feet above flood stage, spilling floodwaters that almost reached the stoplights at a four-lane intersection.
Sunday was the wettest day in the history of Columbia, and the 16.6 inches of rain on Gills Creek was one of the rainiest days in a single spot in the U.S. over the last 15 years.
Some of the worst flooding was in an area southeast of downtown where modest apartment buildings line a stretch of the creek near the airport and not far from an industrial area.
At the Shandon Crossing apartment complex, rescue workers had spray-painted orange X's on apartments and cars they had searched. Water had receded, but trash and mud were left behind.
"We've had problems with flooding, but nothing like this," said Alvin Watson, 61, who lives near the complex. "On a scale of 1-10, this is an 11. We've maybe had a 2 before."