Gordon Leaves Southeast All Soggy

Tuesday, September 19th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — At Camp Lejeune, the water left by tropical depression Gordon was so deep that schools corralled children instead of letting them walk home.

``It's a lake, our playgrounds are flooded, and the streets are flooding. It is just pouring,'' said Betty Hampton, a secretary at Stone Street Elementary.

The former hurricane caused scattered flooding, roof damage and power outages across Florida before streaming along the Southeast coast Monday with heavy rain.

The heavy rain was blamed for two traffic accident deaths in North Carolina.

During the night, the Coast Guard rescued two men who had been missing since they left Southport on a fishing trip on Sunday, even though a tropical storm watch was in effect. Their boat had overturned about 15 miles off the coast. No details were available on their conditions Tuesday.

In South Carolina, an estimated 8 to 10 inches of rain fell at McClellanville, near the coast about 30 miles northeast of Charleston.

``Unfortunately, the area that got the worst rain got heavy rains just two weeks ago,'' said Kevin Woodworth, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Charleston.

Florida water officials doubted Gordon's up to 4 inches of rain would do much to relieve the drought that has plagued much of that state. In Georgia, cotton and peanut farmers were less concerned about drought relief than with wet crops in the middle of the harvest.

The storm left 2 feet of water in the parking lot of the Inlet Square Mall south of Myrtle Beach and some vehicles were moved by the high water, the National Weather Service in Wilmington, N.C., reported. There was scattered street flooding elsewhere in the area.

Residents around City Hall in Georgetown, S.C., watched city workers being carried out of the building by boat and said they had never seen it so bad.

``I've got two feet of water in my dealership,'' said Francis ``Jeep'' Ford, owner of Parrish Motors, across the street from City Hall. ``Never had any water in it before at all.''

In Florida, damage was estimated at more than $1 million at Sanibel. One man was in critical condition Tuesday at Jacksonville after a tree fell on his truck.

Near Tampa, where this year's rainfall is about 20 inches below the average of 51 to 53 inches, Gordon left as much as 5 inches of rain. However, much of it did not seep into the ground.

``Just a heavy rain is not going to do it by itself,'' said Michael Molligan, a spokesman for the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

Jacksonville, N.C., got 6.25 inches of rain and the town sent nonessential employees home early. ``I know this is the most rain we've had in a short period of time like this since Floyd,'' which dumped as much as 2 feet of rain in September 1999, said city water department superintendent Ray Holder.

Tides rose 3 feet higher than normal at North Carolina's Wrightsville Beach, Fire Chief Everett Ward said.