A quick, fierce downpour brought flooding to Columbia County and North Augusta early Monday, creating a sinkhole that sealed off a Martinez subdivision and damaging an Aiken County road so severely it will take perhaps two months to repair.
The National Weather Service said North Augusta and Aiken County were the hardest hit, recording more than 6 inches of rain. Columbia County emergency officials recorded 4 or 5 inches in certain locations.
Residents in Martinez had to walk around the sinkhole in the only road leading to their homes to get to work.
Lopa Shah was one of the residents of the 12 homes on Lake Stone Court who were isolated when more than a foot of floodwater rose from the nearby pond and washed out and caved in the road. Shah and her husband, Bimal, had to make other arrangements to get to work.
“We were actually surprised,” said Shah, adding that her home at the end of the court wasn’t flooded. “Somebody called us in the morning and told us the road was caved in. My husband and I, we kind of walked down here to take a look.
“We just called friends. They are going to pick us up.”
Normally, water flows through a spill pipe under the road to a creek on the other side, but the spillway was overwhelmed with more than 4 inches of rain in less than two hours, Columbia County Roads and Bridges Manager Tim Holloway said. Water flowed through the pipe and over the road to the creek.
The nearby Reed Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant reported 4.7 inches of rain overnight, according to Columbia County Emergency Services Division Director Pam Tucker.
“Water came a foot to a foot and a half over the roadway,” Holloway said. “It’s crazy.”
Holloway said heavy equipment was needed to dig up the hole and check the pipe and utilities before refilling it.
The heavy rains also caused minor flooding in other areas. The parking lot of Reed Creek Park and Wetlands Interpretive Center was under more than a foot of water Monday morning. A house was flooded on Crystal Creek Lane, and several other roads were flooded but are passable for traffic, according to Tucker.
Harder hit was North Augusta, which reported power outages and emergency requests early Monday. There were no reports of injuries, according to Lt. Tim Thornton, of the North Augusta Department of Public Safety.
West Five Notch Road, one of the worst-hit areas, will remained closed for five to eight weeks for repairs, he said.
Lynn Porter, the owner of Four Seasons Food and Fuel at the corner of Five Notch and Pisgah roads in North Augusta, said that when she went to work at 5 a.m. Monday, she noticed the road was closed and detoured using Celeste Avenue, but she could not see why.
At daybreak, she did.
“Oh my God!” she said, snapping a picture of tree limbs that had fallen on Five Notch Road, about a quarter-mile from her store.
Porter said commuters, parents and residents stopped by her store all morning to ask for directions.
“Everybody stopped, asking me what do I do, where do I go?” Porter said. “I cannot remember a storm like this.”
Staff Writer Travis Highfield contributed to this article.