More rain forecast for soggy East Coast

4 deaths in Caroli­nas tied to Joaquin; Obama de­clares emer­gency

The Washington Post Sunday - - POLITICS & THE NATION - BY BRUCE SMITH AND TOM FORE­MAN JR.

CHARLESTON, S.C. — While spared the full fury of Hur­ri­cane Joaquin, parts of the East Coast still saw record-set­ting rain Satur­day that shut down roads, wa­ter­logged crops and showed lit­tle sign of let­ting up.

Much of the drench­ing was cen­tered in the Caroli­nas, but coastal com­mu­ni­ties as far away as New Jersey were feel­ing the ef­fects of un­re­lent­ing rain­fall. Rain and flood warn­ings re­mained in ef­fect for many parts of the East Coast through Sun­day.

Pres­i­dent Obama de­clared a state of emer­gency in South Carolina and or­dered fed­eral aid to help state and lo­cal ef­forts.

Three peo­ple died in sep­a­rate weather-re­lated traf­fic in­ci­dents in South Carolina since the heavy rains be­gan, the state’s high­way pa­trol said. The ca­su­al­ties were two mo­torists who lost con­trol of their cars and a woman hit by a car while walk­ing be­side a high­way.

Down­town Charleston was closed to in­com­ing traf­fic Satur­day as rain flooded roads and left some mo­torists stranded as flood wa­ters en­gulfed their cars. At least two bridges were washed out in other parts of the state.

Sev­eral shel­ters were opened in coastal coun­ties, and health of­fi­cials warned peo­ple not to swim or play in the flood wa­ters.

In­land ar­eas of South Carolina also were bat­tered by rain. In Columbia, which is in the mid­dle of the state, busi­ness own­ers spent Satur­day caulk­ing and duct-tap­ing win­dows and ready­ing sand­bags.

The Greenville-Spar­tan­burg Air­port in South Carolina recorded 2.3 inches of rain Satur­day, smash­ing the pre­vi­ous record of 0.77 inches, set in 1961, ac­cord­ing to John Tomko, Na­tional Weather Ser­vice me­te­o­rol­o­gist at Greenville

In North Carolina, Agri­cul­ture Com­mis­sioner Steve Trox­ler says farm­ers are start­ing to see the im­pact of the con­tin­u­ous rain on their crops. Ap­ples in Hen­der­son County are start­ing to split be­cause of wa­ter­log­ging, and farm­ers can’t get into the fields to harvest other crops. “I had one farmer tell me this is like get­ting all of your cash as­sets, put them on a clothes­line, wait­ing for the wind to blow them away,” Trox­ler said.

Flood­ing closed nu­mer­ous roads through­out the mid-At­lantic re­gion, and power com­pa­nies re­ported scat­tered out­ages in sev­eral states.

In New Jersey, storms dis­lodged an en­tire house from its pil­ings in a low-ly­ing area of Mid­dle Town­ship, in the south­ern part of the state. No one was in the res­i­dence.

The Na­tional Weather Ser­vice in Greenville, S.C., said that in the Caroli­nas and parts of north­ern Ge­or­gia “bursts of heavy rain are likely” that could cause some rivers and streams to flood sig­nif­i­cantly.

The rain lev­els had the po­ten­tial to be “life threat­en­ing and his­toric,” the ser­vice said on its Web site.

Once the rain ends, the threat of flood­ing per­sists be­cause the ground is too sat­u­rated to ab­sorb more wa­ter, me­te­o­rol­o­gists say. And high winds could bring down trees; a fall­ing tree hit a ve­hi­cle near Fayet­teville, N.C., killing a pas­sen­ger.

The storm also has been linked to a drown­ing in Spar­tan­burg, S.C.

Flood watches and warn­ings also are in ef­fect in Delaware and parts of New Jersey, Mary­land and Vir­ginia.

MIC SMITH/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Randy Shirley walks with his dog, Lulu, through a flooded park­ing lot Satur­day in front of the Ci­tadel Beach­House in Isle of Palms, S.C.

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