Slobot About Town CXXXVII:

Slobot goes to the Columbia Canal, pt. 02!

When we last left Slobot, he was merrily exploring the pump houses of the Columbia Canal in Columbia, South Carolina, USA!

As he was exploring, Slobot was blissfully unaware of the disastrous deluge that would strike in October of that year.

The rains that inundated South Carolina are now collectively called the October 2015 North American Storm Complex. It's a name that fails to properly convey the horror of the storm. The Complex was, after all, a tempest that killed 19 South Carolinians and caused damage in excess of $12 billion.

It all started on September 29, 2015 when a cold front swept across the the southeastern US, and, in doing so, produced widespread heavy rain.

While the September cold front was sweeping across the southeast, Hurricane Joaquin was sitting over the Bahamas.

Joaquin's waters streamed north and merged with the rain already falling over the Southeast.

In the cataclysm that followed, a chasm opened, a chasm that drained the Columbia Canal into the Congaree River.

The breach was not considered a problem during the initial stage of the flooding. That would change as the Congaree River quieted and slackened in the wake of the first wave of floodwater. It was then that the Columbia Canal began to vacate itself into the Congaree. The canal was in danger - not of flooding - but of draining!

The City of Columbia maintains an additional store of water in a reservoir on the opposite side of the canal. That resevoir, however, holds less than a day's supply of water for its 375,000 customers.

If the water level of the Columbia Canal falls too low, then the City of Columbia's residents become wholly dependent on that small amount of reserved water.

Workers scrambled to sandbag the breech but found little success. By October 06, 2015 the South Carolina National Guard had taken to the air in Chinook helicopters.

From the Chinooks the National Guard dropped 1-ton sandbags in an effort to plug the Canal's rupture.

On October 01, 2015 South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley declared a state of emergency.

Rainfall in South Carolina reached 500-year event levels, and, in the case of the Columbia area, 1000 year event levels.

On Sunday, October 04, 2015 the City of Columbia announced a mandatory curfew so that emergency responders could better do their job. In the meantime residents of Columbia were placed under a boil advisory.

President Barack Obama signed a disaster declaration that offered federal aid to large swaths of South Carolina. By the 7th of October the rain had dissipated, but the clean-up had just begun.

Walking away from the Hydro-Electric Plant (1896), Slobot passed through an arch.

That arch belongs to the Gervais Street Bridge.

The Gervais Street Bridge crosses the Congaree downstream from where the waters of the Columbia Canal and of the Congaree converge.

Until 1953 it was the only Columbia bridge crossing the Congaree.

Earlier bridges once spanned the river. One such predecessor was built in 1827 and burned (by the Confederacy) in an attempt to slow the advance of Sherman's Army.

Slobot loved the Columbia Canal!

Slobot would like to thank the employees of the Riverfront Park, the City of Columbia, the Columbia Canal Water Treatment Plant and YOU!

This episode is dedicated to Jason "The Love Commander" Leaphart (1977-2016). He was a founding member of Slobot and this web site. He took many (if not most) of the photos in this episode of Slobot About Town.