Rules suspended for truckers in North, South Carolina after unprecedented flooding

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line associate editor | 10/5/2015

Torrential rains brought historic flooding to parts of South Carolina, washing away roads and bridges and claiming at least six lives as of Monday.

Parts of the Palmetto State received in excess of two feet of water as a tropical deluge spent the better part of five days dumping buckets of water on Charleston and on northwest to the capitol city of Columbia.

Photo credit Rick Carpenter, The Sumter Item

OOIDA member Marin “Mike” Anguelov was transporting a load of pillows when the bridge he was traveling on collapsed beneath him on U.S. 15 Highway near Sumter, S.C.

The Charleston Airport set a single-day record for largest recorded amount of rainfall Sunday, logging 11.5 inches. Over four days, parts of Charleston saw as much as 23.61 total inches of rainfall. Mount Pleasant recorded nearly 27 inches of rainfall during the storm, while places like Cainhoy (25.5 inches) and Shadowmoss (24.1 inches) also saw more than two feet rainfall.

President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency in South Carolina, and Gov. Nikki Haley signed a proclamation suspending hours-of-service requirements for truckers in order to deliver equipment, supplies and other needed items to help with the flood relief. North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed a similar decree.

The South Carolina Department of Transportation reports that 374 state-maintained roads and 161 bridges remained closed as of Monday afternoon, with flooding likely to continue even after the rains subside. A 74-mile section of Interstate 95 from I-26 to I-20 remains closed, as does a stretch of I-26 in the Columbia/Lexington area at the Saluda River, according to the state DOT.

“The flood-swollen rivers in the Midlands are tributaries that feed into the rivers that move down into the southern portion of the state. The threat of more flooding is still very real,” SCDOT acting secretary Christy A. Hall said in a news release Monday.

Marin “Mike” Anguelov was supposed to deliver a load of pillows to Sumter, S.C. this morning, but he didn’t make it. A bridge he was on collapsed right underneath his rig.

Anguelov, an OOIDA member from West Bend, Wis., was traveling behind another tractor-trailer on a bridge over White’s Mill Pond on U.S. 15 when a section of the bridge collapsed right in front of him.

“I saw this crack on the bridge, probably a meter-and-a-half or so, open right in front of me,” he said. “There was nothing I can do but jump on the brakes. I was just lucky the steer axles made it across the other side, because I’d have ended up in the middle of the river. It was kind of scary, you know?”

Anguelov managed to get the steer tires across the divide, but his front suspension was destroyed.

Anguelov said he was only going 25 mph when the truck in front of him appeared to have a tire blow out because he saw pieces flying off the truck. According to a reportin The Sumter Item, the truck ahead of him collapsed the bridge and lost some fuel tanks.

“There was no water on the road,” he said. “If I had five or six more seconds to react, I should have been able to stop, but there was no time to react.

Photo credit Rick Carpenter, The Sumter Item

OOIDA member Marin “Mike” Anguelov was transporting a load of pillows when the bridge he was traveling on collapsed beneath him on U.S. 15 Highway near Sumter, S.C.

The South Carolina Department of Transportation is routing traffic around the bridge. The department is expected to assess the damage to the state highway system once floodwaters have receded. In the meantime, SCDOT has asked motorists to remain off the roads unless travel is absolutely necessary.

OOIDA Life Member Paul Todorovich said he’s been out on the road since before the flooding started in his home of Mount Pleasant, S.C., but the neighbors have been keeping him abreast of the situation with phone calls and picture mail.

“We had flooding in the neighborhood that surpassed the 100-year mark, but all our homes are on crawlspaces, up on piers, so there’s been no flooding in the homes,” he said.

Fellow Mount Pleasant resident and OOIDA Senior Life Member Bill Boyd, a retired trucker, said his town and the Charleston area had “a direct hit for the last four days.”

“We didn’t have this much rain during Hurricane Hugo,” he said. “My front yard is a swimming pool, my back yard is a swimming pool, the pasture is a swimming pool. It’ll take a while for it to go away.”

Boyd said the rain fell “almost continuously.”

“The first two or three days, it rained day and night,” he said. “It was unbelievable.”

OOIDA Member Willie Cobb said spent the weekend at his home in Huger, about 30 minutes northwest of Charleston, where they received more than 22 inches of rain.

“It seemed like it was more than that,” he said. “It rained Friday, and all day Saturday. It wasn’t raining when I left (Sunday), but it started raining again last night I heard.”

Cobb said he got dispatched to Nashville to pick up a load for delivery in Greenville, S.C.

“I’m on my way back home now,” he said. “From where I’m at in Greenville, I’ve got an idea of how I’m going to get back home. I’m not going to go through Columbia."

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