A line of thunderstorms dumped buckets of rain on Augusta’s streets Tuesday evening, flooding them and stranding motorists all over the city’s low-lying areas, even forcing the evacuation of a personal care home in Harrisburg.
The National Weather Service said an inch-and-a-half fell between 7 and 9 p.m.
As soon as the rain started coming down hard, Brenda Nations said she knew she had to act.
“I started trying to move people right away,” said Nations, whose personal care home sits at a low-point on Division Street in the Harrisburg area.
Within minutes, however, the street in front of her home had turned into a pond and water started to cover her yard. A manhole cover in the cemetery across from her home popped open from the force of the sudden flood, she said.
“It was shooting up like a fountain,” Nations said. With water threatening to cover her porch, Nations called the Augusta Fire Department and soon, firefighters were helping move the residents to drier ground.
“Three people had to be escorted and one was carried in a chair,” she said.
Nations said although Tuesday’s rain was particularly heavy, her part of Division Street floods regularly because of poor drainage.
“The storm drains and manholes are full of dirt and trash,” she said. “The city never cleans them out. There are plants growing out of them.”
Division Street wasn’t the only area where storm drains failed to keep up with the deluge. Parts of Laney Walker Boulevard and many surrounding streets were flooded enough to stop traffic, and manhole covers in numerous low areas became dislodged by the flood.
In one section of R.A. Dent Boulevard, at least eight vehicles were stalled out in knee-deep water, while sheriff’s officers scrambled to cover the many calls for assistance.
Commission Matt Aitken, who assisted with the evacuation on Division Street, said he has already talked with city engineering Tuesday night.
“I just found out about this tonight,” he said of the drainage problem. “I’ll be discussing it with engineering to see what we can do.”