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Heavy Rain, Flooding Plague Southeastern Cities : Weather: Deluge turns streets into lakes in Savannah, Ga. and Charleston, S.C. Some flee their homes as schools and businesses close.

October 14, 1994|From Associated Press

SAVANNAH, Ga. — Flooding from at least 14 inches of rain in two days closed streets and schools Thursday and forced the evacuation of about 200 homes.

In downtown Savannah, children played in streets where floodwaters began to recede after rising to five feet.

Children rode their bicycles into the water, and a group of about eight played on a fishing boat.

"We're having fun for once," said 12-year-old Kelly Pringle.

Adults had a different view.

It was the third time in two months that the coastal city has been flooded, and some residents blamed clogged storm drains.

"I feel robbed," Danny Hendrix said as he and his wife moved their nine children out of their home. "Nothing has been done by the city after the first two times. . . . It's gone beyond anger."

The deluge, which had ended by late Thursday morning, closed scores of streets and roads in area counties.

About 200 homes were evacuated and 216 patients had to be moved from Georgia Regional Hospital. Four area shelters held about 340 people.

Gov. Zell Miller flew over the area Thursday afternoon.

On Wednesday night, Ginny Millner, wife of Republican gubernatorial candidate Guy Millner, and two campaign workers were rescued when their truck made a wrong turn and became trapped in five feet of water in Savannah.

They escaped unharmed through the sunroof and were picked up by a rescue crew in a 14-foot rubber raft.

So many streets were flooded in Savannah that police ran out of barricades to block them off.

"I haven't seen nothing like this in my life," said Viveca Walker, 39, who went to a shelter with her parents and daughter after the National Guard rescued them from their flooded home.

"We don't have no clothes or anything."

The heavy rain also wreaked havoc on Charleston, S.C., where streets and homes were flooded and schools and businesses were forced to close.

Thousands of students in coastal school districts were dismissed early because of street flooding from the storm, which dumped 4.07 inches of rain on downtown Charleston from midnight to noon. By afternoon, the sun was out along parts of the coast.

As low-lying streets became lakes, officials opened four emergency shelters in Charleston County. In Jasper County, about 50 homes near Hardeeville were damaged by flooding.

Some homes on Hilton Head Island were temporarily without power and scattered homes on the island were flooded.

In Washington, D.C., meanwhile, President Clinton on Thursday ordered the federal government to pay 90% of the cost of repairing public property damaged by flooding in Georgia last summer. Generally, the federal government covers only 75% of such costs when it declares a disaster, with the state and local communities making up the rest.

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