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Charleston city crews cleaning up following weekend flash flooding

Published: Jun. 13, 2021 at 11:42 AM EDT|Updated: Jun. 13, 2021 at 11:30 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Crews from a number of departments spent Sunday cleaning up the debris left behind following flash flooding that left parts of Charleston underwater Saturday night and Sunday.

The water rose quickly Saturday evening with parts of the city seeing multiple inches of rain in rapid succession. The quick-rising water caught a number of residents and visitors alike off guard.

“We came in after dinner, and we had to go the back roads to find our way back here to avoid this intersection that’s completely flooded. Finally we got home and just in time because the skies just completely opened up and it’s been mayhem ever since,” resident Mark Rubin said.

As the water fell, the mess left behind became apparent. Vehicles that had been partially submerged remained in the middle of streets and trash that fell from toppled cans was strewn about.

Workers picked up trash and unclogged drains Sunday and will head back to problem spots on Monday, the city said.

Commercial garbage collection was briefly suspended Sunday morning due to heavy rain, but crews have resumed collection and are working to complete their routes.

“A lot of what we’re doing today frankly is coming behind trash cans that have spilled over because they got turned over by the rain,” Mayor John Tecklenburg said. He asked residents to bring trash cans inside or move them to higher ground when heavy rain is in the forecast.

The Charleston Fire Department, meanwhile, received 28 calls for assistance during the flooding. Photos show a firefighter carrying a woman to dry land Sunday morning. The department also broke out a high water vehicle to help with water rescues.

The Emergency Management Division’s Public Safety Operations Center opened Saturday night to coordinate the city’s storm response efforts and will remain open until storms leave the area.

The latest updates on road closures can be found on the Charleston city website.

“City officials and crews continue to use every resource at their disposal to protect the life and safety of those in Charleston. During these types of events, with high levels of rain and flash flooding, it’s critical that our citizens and visitors avoid all unnecessary travel and never drive through flooded roadways. As we always advise during these events, ‘Turn around. Don’t drown,’” City of Charleston Emergency Management Director Shannon Scaff said in a statement Sunday morning.

Charleston is no stranger to flooding, so cleanup crews quickly jumped into action.

The city is also looking toward its future to try to prevent the problems from becoming any worse.

“If you look at our comprehensive plan that we’re working on – every 10 years we have to redo that – for the first time in the city’s history we’ve actually taken into account not just flooding, past flooding but also future sea level rise,” Tecklenburg said.

The plan, which the mayor said is set to go before the City Council next month, will include zoning restrictions reducing the amount of density that can be built in areas at or below six feet above sea level.

The city is asking people who saw property damage due to water intrusion to report it to the city’s Citizen Services Desk website or by calling 843-724-7311 between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday or 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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