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Midlands river, lake flooding expected to subside

Last week's heavy rainfall in the Upstate and North Carolina pulsed through the Midlands' rivers Monday, inundating riverfront trails in the Columbia area and prompting the closing of a public boat ramp near Camden.

Lake Wateree peaked over the weekend high enough that water reached some low-lying houses, but the lake began dropping Monday.

The lake neared 103 feet over the weekend and has been above 102 feet six of the past 14 days. The Wateree Dam has no floodgates to help prevent such flooding, and it happens periodically. But floods on the lake have been rare in the past few years because of the lingering drought.

"I think the drought is over," said Gary Faulkenberry, who lives along Lake Wateree. "Some of my neighbors were surrounded by water during the weekend."

While floods in the 103-foot range aren't life-threatening, homeowners on low-lying property have to move belongings out of basements or from under raised houses, Faulkenberry said.

On the Wateree River a couple of miles downstream from the lake, the S.C. Department of Natural Resources closed the public boat launch at U.S. 1. The river was flowing high enough Monday to make parking and launching boats unsafe.

Most of the Midlands rivers peaked Monday and will be back below flood levels Wednesday or Thursday, according to the National Weather Service.

Flooding in Columbia prompted the closing of Granby Park and the portion of the Riverfront Park trail that winds near the Broad River. Across the Congaree River, only about a quarter-mile portion of the West Columbia Riverwalk was open, and all of the Cayce Riverwalk was closed Monday.

Those walkways were built to accommodate periodic flooding. City officials expect all of the walkways to be open by the weekend, unless there's significant rainfall in the interim.

Rain is forecast for today, but the National Weather Service expects less than a third of an inch. River level forecasts don't expect the rainfall to boost levels much, if at all.

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