Rescuers use boat to help woman trapped in car after Charleston downpour

Volunteers with the Charleston County Rescue Squad and Charleston firefighters rescue a woman who had a medical emergency Sunday on Ashley Avenue. EMS could not reach her through the flooded streets, so rescuers with an inflatable boat were called to help. Buy this photo

It had to happen sometime, with downtown Charleston streets flooding every time it rains hard. After an unusually heavy downpour Sunday afternoon, a woman with a medical emergency was trapped in her car on a flooded street.

Around 4 p.m,, with the waters at their highest, a car got stuck in the water on Ashley Avenue near Fishburne Street. An EMS vehicle and firetruck couldn’t get near the car to help the woman inside.

The fire department called the Charleston County Volunteer Rescue Squad, whose members brought an inflatable boat, waded to the car and floated the woman to the EMS vehicle for transport.

The usual downtown streets that become impassable when it rains hard flooded even faster than usual Sunday afternoon. More than 2 inches of rain fell on the peninsula between 2 and 3 p.m., according to the Charleston office of the National Weather Service.

“A heavy shower parked itself right over downtown Charleston,” meteorologist Jonathan Lamb said.

About 2.08 inches were measured near Marion Square. An inch and a half of rain in an hour is enough to flood the streets, Lamb said.

It was Nicole Givens’ first experience with flooded streets. She just moved to the area about a week ago from Beaufort. She went to her car parked on Elmwood Avenue near The Citadel about 4 p.m. and found water almost over the wheels.

Andre LeClerc of West Ashley was cutting through the neighborhood because the Crosstown was flooded.

He and his sons got out of their own vehicle and pushed Givens’ car out of the floodwaters. She called LeClerc a hero — and now she knows where not to park next time it rains hard.

Sunday’s rain didn’t have much effect on the Edisto River, which remains 3 feet above flood level, Lamb said. The river level has dropped about a foot since the middle of last week, but swimmers and boaters are still advised to avoid the river until the water level drops to normal.

Today’s forecast calls for more rain, possibly heavy at times.

Grace Beahm and Andy Paras contributed to this story. Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553 or twitter.com/dmunday.

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