The rain has stopped, but South Carolina’s dealerships and residents are still on alert and recovering from the massive floods that have wreaked havoc on much of the state.
BMW’s Spartanburg plant began temporarily trucking its vehicles to the port of Charleston for export after severe flooding in Columbia damaged a rail line.
“Once the rail is repaired, we will resume rail transport,” BMW spokeswoman Sky Foster wrote in an email.
Seventy percent of the plant’s vehicles are exported. Foster wrote that employees have made it to work without major problems from the flooding.
“Our employees live within a radius of the plant that was not significantly affected by the major flooding,” Foster wrote. “There was some storm damage and minor flooding in our area, but nothing like is occurring in Columbia and Charleston.”
Weather forecasters and state officials warned that major river flooding could continue through the weekend even though the rains had stopped. Tuesday was the first day without rain in Columbia since Sept. 23, according to the National Weather Service.
The city was deluged by about 11 inches of rain last weekend, its wettest days on record, the weather service said. More than 2 feet of rain fell in several other parts of the state.
Daimler Vans Manufacturing, which makes Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans in Ladson, near Charleston, reopened on Tuesday after closing Monday to enable workers to begin recovering from the floods, a Daimler spokeswoman said today.
Edward August, general manger at Love Buick-GMC in Columbia, said his dealership reopened on Tuesday after being closed for two days because of hazardous road conditions. He said that although the dealership was spared from major flooding, many of its customers live in the severely affected areas.
“We’re reaching out to people we know to see if there’s anything we can do,” including help with inspections and repairs, August said.
He said the dealership has added vehicles to its courtesy fleet for customers without drivable vehicles to use while repairs are made or replacements are found.
Nathan Beard, sales manager at Dick Smith Ford in Columbia, said his dealership had 38 flooded vehicles ready to be examined this morning. He said reopening after the floods allows the dealership to help those affected.
“It’s bringing people a little bit of normalcy by coming back to work,” Beard said. That’s despite the difficulty that comes with having no clean, running water to speak of, he said.
Beard said he expects Ford to offer incentives locally in response to increased demand in the aftermath of the flooding.
The widespread rainstorm was blamed for 11 dam failures and at least 15 deaths in South Carolina, including nine people who drowned and six killed in weather-related car crashes.
Nearly 300 state-maintained roads and about 140 bridges remained closed today, including a stretch of Interstate 95, one of the busiest highways in the nation.
Reuters contributed to this report.