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FLOOD NOTES: Search is on for missing 22-year-old

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Columbia Flooding.  Crews work to build a rock berm in the Columbia Canal as part of efforts to close off a breach in the canal.   Tuesday 20151006 (Photo by Perry Baker)

Crews work to build a rock berm in the Columbia Canal as part of efforts to close off a breach in the canal on Tuesday. (Photo/Perry Baker Photography)


By Chris Cox
Published Oct. 7, 2015

The Richland County Sheriff’s Department is searching for 22-year-old Dustin Johnson, who has been missing since leaving work in Northeast Columbia on Sunday.

He was last seen on Sunday leaving work at Food Lion on Hardscrabble Road driving a gold 1995 Honda Accord sedan. He was supposed to report to work the next day but has not been heard from since, Sheriff Leon Lott said.

A white male, 5-10 and 200 pounds, Johnson has brown eyes, brown hair and was last seen wearing khaki pants, a navy blue Food Lion polo shirt and black sneakers. Anyone with information should call crimestoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC.

Columbia working to stabilize canal: The City of Columbia Utilities and Engineering Department, along with SCE&G and the National Guard, continue to work on stabilizing and maintaining water levels at the Columbia Canal.

On Tuesday, the National Guard used a CH-47 Chinook to place construction equipment at the scene, which will create a temporary dam to return the canal to normal levels. Today, 750 one-ton sandbags were maneuvered to further help with stabilization.

“While we still have a while to go, these repair efforts are a huge stride forward in the city’s efforts to secure this vital drinking water source and bring reliable drinking water service back to its customers,” said Teresa Wilson, city manager.

Beaver Dam status: The situation at the Wildwood/Beaver Dam has stabilized and residents can now return home, the sheriff’s department said.

Columbia Flooding.   A Chinook helicopter carries a piece of heavy equipment over to the earthen dam along the Columbia Canal Tuesday as crews from SCET&G and the City of Columbia worked to close a breach in the dam.   20151006 (Photo by Perry Baker)
A Chinook helicopter carries a piece of heavy equipment over to the earthen dam along the Columbia Canal Tuesday as crews from SCE&G and the City of Columbia worked to close a breach in the dam. (Photo/Perry Baker Photography)
Latest on road closures; officials searching for truck passengers: As of 8 a.m. Wednesday morning, the S.C. Transportation Department said there were still 414 closures across South Carolina, including 271 roads and 143 bridges.

A link to these closures, searchable by county, can be found here.

The state continues to urge citizens not to move and drive through barricades to these roads. This morning, Richland County Sheriff’s Department officials and its dive teams were searching for two people who went missing in the 2100 block of Congaree Road after driving through a barricaded area.

The truck, carrying five people at the time, was swept away by flood water. The other three passengers made it to safety.

DOT partially reopens I-95: The Transportation Department has reopened portions of the interstate in the following areas:

· The section of the detour south of the I-95 bridges over the Black and Pocotaglio Rivers: I-95 can be reopened at Exit 119 (SC 261). All south bound ramps will be opened to the south all the way to I-26.

· For the section of the detour north of the I-95 bridges, I-95 North from Exit 132 (SC 527) northbound and all northbound ramps can be opened all the way to I-20.

For local traffic only: The following portions of I-95 may reopen to local emergency agencies and vehicles carrying relief supplies:

· I-95 Northbound from Exit 90 (US 176) to Exit 119 (SC 261) in Manning for LOCAL TRAFFIC ONLY. I-95 will remain closed to all traffic at Exit 119.

· I-95 Southbound from Exit 157 (US 76) to Exit 132 (SC 527) for LOCAL TRAFFIC ONLY. I-95 will remain closed to all traffic at Exit 132.

· Through traffic will continues to detour with northbound traffic using I-26 west to I-77 north, to I-20 east, to I-95 north.

· Southbound through traffic will continue to use I-20 west, to I-77 south to 1-26 east to I-95 south.

City asking for voluntary water conservation; boil water advisory still in effect: Columbia officials are asking citizens to minimize water usage until further notice as work continues stabilizing the Columbia Canal.

Conservation will assist the city in protecting one of the region’s primary water sources while repairs are completed. Mayor Steve Benjamin said on Twitter this morning that there are an estimated 25,000 customers without water service. That number was estimated to be at 42,000 customers on Tuesday and around 130,000 when the floods began.

In addition, the system-wide boil water advisory is still in effect for all water customers.

Richland County offices open; council approves recovery effort funds: Richland County offices are operating today, but are doing so with limited staff. And on Tuesday the Richland County Council approved $1.5 million to put toward emergency response assessment and recovery efforts.

Council members also approved a contract with AshBritt, a FEMA-approved national rapid-response disaster recovery and special environmental services contractor. Small local businesses will be engaged in this contract.

The organization, which previously assisted with Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina with disaster relief, is currently working with Charleston, Georgetown and Sumter counties.

County officials are asking employees not to return to work for the next few days if they are unable or it puts them at risk. The county is asking for “patience and understanding” until it can return to a fully staffed service.

Richland County solid waste, recycling updates: Solid Waste and Recycling services in Richland County began normal curbside household trash and collection today. Customers with Monday and Tuesday pickup schedules can also put theirs out, though collection is not guaranteed.

Normal curbside recycling collection will begin next week, as will pickup of yard waste and tree debris (no tree trunks), as well as furniture and bulky items.

The Richland County C&D Landfill Drop-Off Center and Lower Richland Drop-Off Center are operating on regular hours, and each has receptacles for household garbage and storm debris. Richland County Solid Waste & Recycling also has large trash receptacles set up for household garbage only at several parks and community centers.

Wells Fargo pledges donation: The bank has announced a $300,000 pledge to the American Red Cross to support disaster relief efforts.

Wells Fargo also said customers can donate to the organization at over 4,000 ATMs in the Carolinas and 10 other states across the East coast. There is not a fee for the service.

“These efforts help bring our culture of caring to life,” said Kathy Heffley, S.C. regional president. “Wells Fargo has a long tradition of providing local responses to communities in need. We hope this donation will help provide immediate relief to those impacted.”

Water distribution sites: Though the city appears to have plenty of available water now, five City of Columbia sites are still open for those in need.

Those are at Dutch Square (421 Bush River Road), Midlands Shopping Center (2638 Two Notch Road), former Sam’s Club parking lot (1401 Sunset Blvd.), Wal-Mart (5424 Forest Drive) and the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center (1101 Lincoln St.)

The first four sites are open until 6:30 p.m. while the convention center is open until 2 p.m.

Reach Chris Cox at 803-726-7545 or on Twitter @chrisbcox.

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