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Congaree River surges past flood stage around Columbia

The Congaree River near the Gervais Street bridge overflows its banks on Tuesday.
The Congaree River near the Gervais Street bridge overflows its banks on Tuesday. tglantz@thestate.com

Portions of the Congaree River around the Columbia area reached flood stage overnight after another round of rain soaked the region hit by a historic storm a month ago.

The Congaree in lower Richland County near the borders with Lexington and Calhoun counties has crested the most — reaching nearly eight feet above flood stage, according to the National Weather Service.

Local creeks — including Gills which snakes through populated area north of Columbia — added water to the already swollen river.

Less severe flood stages were reported along the Congaree near downtown Columbia and the Congaree National Park. Those areas are two feet above flood stage, according to weather service data.

Still, the Cayce Riverwalk was closed because of rising waters.

Creeks in the heart of Columbia — Gills and Rocky Branch — remained below flood stage during the rains that started Sunday.

Though the rain is forecast to taper off later Tuesday, some flood warnings around the Congaree from the National Weather Service are in effect through Sunday. Rain could return this weekend.

The Columbia area received another two inches of rain this week on top of the more than a foot received a month ago in a storm that’s been called a once-in-1,000-year event. The Congaree reached near historic-high crests during the storm in October.

This week, though, more rain fell on northwest of the capital city in the Upstate and around Newberry — as much as five inches — increasing chances for water to flow downstream toward Richland and Lexington counties.

State regulators asked dam owners last week to lower lake levels in anticipation of the storms.

At least 36 dams statewide — almost half in Richland County — failed during the rain last month. The state was watching more than 30 dams damaged by the surging waters.

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