Disaster Hits Close to Home

A pair of vehicles plunged into the raging waters Sunday as a 20-foot section of Highway 21 near Lake Elizabeth collapsed under their wheels. The occupants were rescued as the record breaking storm changed the landscape of the Midlands. (Photo/Barbara Ball)

A pair of vehicles plunged into the raging waters Sunday as a 20-foot section of Highway 21 near Lake Elizabeth collapsed under their wheels. The occupants were rescued as the record breaking storm changed the landscape of the Midlands. (Photo/Barbara Ball)

BLYTHEWOOD/FAIRFIELD – By now, no one needs to tell you how bad it was. “Catastrophic” just doesn’t quite measure up. Residents of Blythewood and Fairfield County also need no reminder by now of exactly how fortunate they were, as the brunt of the storm described last weekend by Gov. Nikki Haley as a “One thousand year event” struck largely to their southern flank.

By Sunday afternoon, downtown Columbia had accumulated 11.65 inches of rain. Gills Creek amassed 18.39 inches. Fort Jackson nearly 15 inches. Further south, Mt. Pleasant was looking at 24.23 inches. Kingstree, 17.53 inches.

The list goes on and on. And so did the rain.

While homes in the Blythewood area were spared the kind of damage seen just down I-77, flooding caused damage to many local roads. According to the Blythewood Fire Department, Russ Brown Road was washed out in the 1200 block; part of the bridge on Lorick Road near Folk Road was washed out; Fulmer Road near Blythewood Road was washed out; and Langford Road at Trading Post Road was washed out. The bridge on Langford Road at EJW Road is also out.

Just outside of Blythewood, Highway 21 at Lake Elizabeth simply caved in.

As of Monday, torrents of water from Lake Columbia in LongCreek Plantation were still gushing through the spillway under Longtown Road and into the LongCreek Equestrian Center. Roads into the Center as well as the pastures there were inundated with water.

The Rimer Pond dam breached, washing out a portion of Rimer Pond Road.

And while there is, as the saying goes, water everywhere, drinking water is another matter. City of Columbia water customers – those who were fortunate enough to actually have running water – remained under a boil advisory as of Tuesday.

Fairfield County experienced much less damage, although some roads in the county are out.

“We were very lucky,” Fairfield County Sheriff Will Montgomery said Tuesday. “We have a couple of roads down, but we dodged a bullet for the most part.”

All lanes are blocked on Cow Horn Road from West Peach Road to Highway 321 S. River Road from Westshore Drive to Kingfisher Drive is also out. Highway 213 between the Broad River Bridge and Jenkinsville Road, meanwhile, was open to traffic again as of Tuesday evening, but expect temporary daytime lane closures.

Approximately 800 Winnsboro electric customers were without power during the height of the storm, according to department director William Medlin, but all power has been restored.

Yes, it was bad. And for a great many, it could have been worse. Those wishing to volunteer to assist Richland County victims may contact the County’s hotline at 803-929-6000.

 

Barbara Ball contributed to this story.