It was over almost as quick as it started.
But the storm that dropped more than 5 inches of rain on parts of Columbia County left its mark: a flooded middle school, submerged roads and felled trees.
"In one hour's time, a lot of damage can be done when these kind of storms move through," said Columbia County Emergency Services Director Pam Tucker. "It just came in and it was a huge cell that covered our entire county. That's what alarmed the Columbia Weather Service to call us personally and say heads up on this one."
The weather service call came around lunchtime. By 1 p.m., the storm had arrived.
"We've had flooding problems with this sudden unique storm that came up on us right around 1 p.m. today, the worst since June of last year," Tucker said Tuesday. "I had gotten a phone call from Columbia Weather Service asking me, 'How are your creeks and streams over there?' I checked and they were all pretty well in the banks. He said, 'I just want to tell you ya'll are going to get more than two inches of rain in one hour. We're looking at radar and it's going to be heavy rain.' I alerted everybody, and boy when it hit, it started from the west end of the county - Appling, Winfield - and fell all the way across the county."
Several streets were flooded. Horizon South Parkway from Grovetown to Interstate 20 was closed due to flooding. Downed trees were reported throughout the county, including one that fell on a car on Wrightsboro Road. Mud from the racetrack on Gordon Highway flowed out onto the highway and backed up traffic. Hail was reported along Lewiston Road.
"It was very difficult during that hour to drive," Tucker said. "You start getting three feet of water in some of these locations and it can float your car away, so it was quite dangerous."
At Columbia Middle School, the lunchroom, two front halls, media center, two computer labs were flooded. The media center took the most water - with up to a foot of water reaching wooden bookshelves, books, two network servers and network equipment.
A Columbia Middle School employee wades through the flooded kitchen at the school. Nearly a foot of water filled the school's halls.
"There was no warning," said Vice Principal Tom White. "We had no idea this was coming. If we would have known, we would have found some carpet or some kind of barricades to keep the water out."
Eighth grader Sarah Shepherd said it got dark outside as the rain fell, and then the water started flowing under the door. Her teacher, Missy Dorn, got the students out of the classroom quickly.
"The kids were real good," said Dorn, who cut her foot leaving the classroom. "They were troopers."
Flooding was also reported at Patriot's Park and in the Windmill Plantation subdivision.
"Some of the bridges were overflowing and mud was seeping into some of the residents' homes there," she said.
At one point, three feet of water accumulated in front of the Quebecor World printing plant on Evans to Locks Road, but it quickly receded.
Rain gauges stationed throughout the county recorded rain amounts ranging from 1 inch in the eastern end of the county, to 5.5 inches at the Grovetown Department of Public Safety. Tucker said she got two inches of rain at her office in Evans.
"All within that one-hour time frame. That's a lot of water in a very short time," she said. "We spent the all weekend worrying about the tropical storm, which didn't cause any problems, and then today."
RAIN GAGE REPORTS
Sept. 18, 2002
Faircloth Drive, Evans - 1.5 inches
Euchee Creek Drive, Grovetown - 1 inches
Clarks Hill Water Plant - 4 inches
Point Comfort Water Plan,t Evans - 0.5 inches
Engine Company #5, Evans - 1.02 inches
Euchee Creek Drive, Grovetown - 2.25 inches
Grovetown Department of Public Safety - 5.5 inches
Crawford Creek WWTP - 2.5 inches
Reed Creek Water Plant - 1.05 inches
Point Comfort Water Plant, Evans - 1.0 inches
EMA-500 Faircloth Drive, Evans - 2 inches
Gold Cross, Harlem Substation - 2.75 inches
Gold Cross, Grovetown Substation - 2.25 inches
4135 Sawgrass Court, Evans - 2.25 inches
Ridge Road at Columbia. County Fish & Game Club - 4.5 inches
Martinez Fire Department Headquarters, Martinez - 3.0 inches
Keg Creek - 4.5 inches
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