CBSN

S.C. Weathers 2nd Big August Storm

A company like Starbucks can now sponsor tweets on Twitter.
CBS
Stinging rain and howling winds lashed South Carolina after a second powerful storm hit the state in a month, though residents apparently weathered it well.

"Tropical depression Gaston is now moving very slowly across central sections of North Carolina, dumping some heavy rain in its path," said CBS News Meteorologist George Cullen.

Though Gaston knocked out power to thousands, officials said Sunday there was only one initial report of a serious injury — a Charleston County resident injured when a tree fell on a home.

"It just goes to show that the residents took the proper precautions that they needed to take and shows they were prepared," said Roland Windham, the Charleston County administrator.

Gaston made landfall near McClellanville, a small fishing village that was brushed by Hurricane Charley earlier this month when it came ashore for a second time after devastating southwest Florida.

Hours after the eye of Gaston came ashore, steady sheets of rain drenched Mount Pleasant. Tree limbs littered flooded roadways, some of which were impassable. Palmettos were pushed to the pavement, and road signs twisted in the wind.

Across the harbor in Charleston, Gaston flooded streets and toppled power poles. At least 125,000 people were without power at the height of the storm and a state of emergency was declared for the whole state.

The rain tapered off along the coast by midday, but blustery wind still raked the coastline near Charleston, and intersections throughout the area had no traffic lights.

"The important thing is that we don't have any false sense of safety that it's all over," said Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. "We have downed trees, and often times there are power lines under those downed trees."

By early Monday, Gaston was moving northeast about 14 mph across North Carolina with wind gusts around 35 mph. Flood watches were in effect for central and eastern North Carolina.

John Legare of the South Carolina Emergency Management agency said about 30 people had sought refuge in five shelters in coastal counties as Gaston approached. Shelters were opened in at least one inland county.

Gaston had maximum sustained winds of 70 mph when it hit land but was down to 45 mph by early afternoon. As much as 10 inches of rain fell in Charleston County and Hundreds of residents were urged to evacuate ahead of the storm.

In Charleston, water stood in the street in front of the palatial homes on the city's waterfront. Debbie Rice-Marko was cleaning tree limbs and other debris from the front of her 250-year-old house, which was left with knee-deep water in the basement.

"We didn't see anything like this with Charley," she said, noting residents have had to deal with Bonnie, Charley and Gaston already this year. And they are now eyeing Hurricane Frances spinning in the Atlantic Ocean.

Frances was a Category 3 hurricane as it slowly pushed closer to the northern Caribbean with 120-mph winds early Monday, resulting in several hurricane watches and tropical storm warnings.

"It looks like Frances will really be close to the Bahamas on Friday, and all indications are that this will threaten the southeast coastline of the United States sometime this weekend," said Cullen.

A hurricane watch was in effect for the British and northern U.S. Virgin Islands, including St. Thomas, St. John and the surrounding islands, and for the islands of Culebra and Vieques. A tropical storm warnings were in effect for St. Maarten, Anguilla, Barbuda, Antigua, Nevis, St. Kitts, St. Eustatius and Saba. Forecasters said St. Martin and St. Barthelemy may also be threatened.

Residents "from Florida to the Carolinas should start monitoring the progress of this storm," said Hugh Cobb, a meteorologist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Hermine swirled in the Atlantic, the eighth named storm of the season. Late Sunday, the center of Hermine was located about 495 miles south of Chatham, Mass. The storm was moving toward the north near 18 mph and maximum sustained winds were near 50 mph.

"We may seen Hermine clip parts of northern New England later on Tuesday, probably from Block Island to Cape Cod, again, sometime Tuesday night, but it should weaken by then as it will be over cooler waters," said Cullen.