Hurricane Joaquin batters the South

Pounded by heavy rain and an unusually high tide, Charleston, South Carolina was paralyzed by flash floods on Saturday, its elegant streets transformed into coursing riverways, its residents plucked from waterlogged cars and its officials sealing off the low-lying peninsula in the heart of the city, declaring it “substantially under water in various parts.”

By early evening, however, it seemed that the floodwaters had caused more inconvenience than tragedy in this city of 130,000. About 60 streets in the city were closed because of flooding; many businesses were closed, and numerous fairs and festivals were canceled. But Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. said that only a handful of residents called to report water in their homes.

The record rainfall  was the result of a low-pressure system that lumbered through the Carolinas and eastern Georgia, sucking in some moisture from Hurricane Joaquin, the Category 4 storm with 150-mile-per-hour winds that spun east over the Atlantic on Saturday, hundreds of miles southwest of Bermuda.

Joaquin’s eye was expected to pass west of Bermuda on Sunday, the National Hurricane Center said, and before nightfall, forecasters posted a hurricane watch.

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