The recent rain storm that flooded Columbia and many parts of South Carolina produced record-setting river levels in some areas of the state, a federal agency says.
Seventeen stream gauges registered the highest peak water flows or river heights ever recorded at those gauges, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
“This was absolutely an historic flood for South Carolina," said John Shelton, a USGS hydrologist who oversaw the agency’s work.
Some of the records were set on Gills Creek in Columbia and near Kingstree on the Black River, which recorded its highest peak in 87 years, the geological survey said.
The Gills Creek flood record was set at a gauge on lower Devine Street near a new shopping center with Marshalls and PetSmart.
Peak flows there hit 19.6 feet on Oct. 4. The previous record, set Feb. 24, 1979, was 8.66 feet, survey data said.
The lower Devine Street area experienced some of the worst flooding in Columbia as Gills Creek overflowed and covered the roadway.
This month’s flood also was the highest on the Congaree River since April 8, 1936.
This year, the Congaree peaked at 185,000 cubic feet per second. The peak that day was enough to fill two Olympic-sized swimming pools every second, the survey said. The River had a peak stage of 31.8 feet Oct. 4.
The flood this month was so powerful that it also knocked out eight stream gauges used by the geological survey.
The Oct. 4 storm was the worst many people ever remember in Columbia. As much as 17 inches of rain fell on parts of the city in several hours time, causing dams to break, homes to flood and people to flee for safety. Nearly 20 people, half in the Columbia area, were killed in the storm.