RALEIGH, N.C. - Officials in South Carolina say one person has died in street flooding in Spartanburg as the East Coast braces for drenching storms.
Spartanburg County Coroner Rusty Clevenger said in a news release Thursday that 56-year-old Sylvia Arteaga of Spartanburg died Thursday morning when her car was flooded.
Clevenger says Arteaga was driving underneath an overpass just outside the Spartanburg city limits when her car flooded "to capacity" inside. Clevenger says an autopsy is scheduled to determine exactly how Arteaga died.
The South Carolina Highway Patrol is investigating. Clevenger says he does not believe Arteaga was involved in any sort of crash before her car flooded.
Forecasters say the freak flash flood happened when up to 4 inches of rain fell in a short time in the area, while places 10 miles away saw almost no precipitation.
CBS Affiliate WSPA reports that one man was rescued Thursday morning after his vehicle was swept off the road where a culvert had washed out. Doug Bryson with Spartanburg County Emergency Management said the man, who'd managed to cling to a tree, was taken to a hospital for treatment.
There was no immediate word on his condition.
Thursday's flooding and street closures were centered in Spartanburg County, including part of Interstate 95 Business just north of Spartanburg.
Recent downpours have forced people from their homes and closed schools, and forecasters are calling for several more inches of rain in coming days, regardless of what happens with Hurricane Joaquin, which is spinning off the coast.
Students in at least one school district in South Carolina are getting a surprise day off thanks to the heavy rain.
Charleston County schools will be closed Friday. Heavy rain and high tides caused flooding Thursday in the area, and more rain is expected Friday., possibly creating a danger for getting children to and from school on buses. The district will make up the day later in October.
Other districts near Charleston say they are considering whether to keep a regular schedule Friday.
In North Carolina, one person has died in a wreck on Interstate 95 northeast of Fayetteville and the North Carolina Highway Patrol says the death may be weather related.
Lt. Jeff Gordon says a tree fell on a car traveling south near Godwin shortly before 2 p.m. Thursday.
Gordon says the passenger in the vehicle died. The victim's name has not been released. Gordon says the death was "potentially" weather related, pointing out that the area has had a lot rain for the past several days.
The National Weather Service reported light rain and winds of about 10 mph at Fayetteville around the time of the wreck. Gordon says troopers are still investigating.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center says depending on its path, Joaquin could intensify the storms' damage. Forecasters say Joaquin will batter the central Bahamas with wind and rain through Thursday night, bringing a significant storm surge and dangerous surf.
Forecasters say Hurricane Joaquin has strengthened to "an extremely dangerous Category 4 hurricane," with forecast maps showing the storm passing the Bahamas and then making its way toward the U.S. over the next couple of days.
Joaquin had maximum sustained winds of 130 mph and hurricane strength winds extending 45 miles from the eye, the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said. As of 5 p.m. EDT, the storm was located about 15 miles northwest of Crooked Island after passing over Samana Cays, Bahamas. It was moving southwest at 6 mph.
Governors up and down the East Coast are warning residents to prepare for drenching storms that could cause power outages and close more roads in a region already walloped by rain.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was among the officials urging residents to take precautions, saying: "Our state has seen the damage that extreme weather can cause time and time again."
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan says the state is preparing to mobilize resources to respond to heavy rains and Hurricane Joaquin. The governor declared a state of emergency on Thursday.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe is warning Virginians of the prospect of flooding and power failures as a rain-soaked weather system moves into the state.
In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie declared a state of emergency ahead of the storm. He said it's too soon to know whether the hurricane will have a direct impact on the state, but warned of coastal flooding Friday and Saturday.