There was a wet sheen on the road when workers arrived at the Walmart Neighborhood Market early Monday morning.
Hours later, feet of water covered Stonewall Jackson Boulevard in front of the store.
“When I came in to work at 5, this was not here at all,” Carla Brown said, looking out over the water in the roadway. “About 6 or 6:30, we were told that we needed to move our cars out of the parking lot and across the street to the Bi-Lo parking lot.
“It was OK to move our cars, but the water was coming up. Two hours later, the water just kept coming and coming. Nobody could come in, and we couldn’t go out.”
Around 2 p.m., Orangeburg Department of Public Safety officials began helping Brown and her co-workers safely reach their vehicles across the flooded street.
“I have never seen anything like this,” she said. “We woke up this morning thinking everything was over, and to come to this is very surprising.”
Cathleen Docherty was amazed at how quickly the water rose around them.
“This is just crazy,” she said. “It’s unreal how much water there is. It’s going to take a while for it to go away.”
Throughout the afternoon, curious passersby found their way to the Edisto Village shopping center just to see if what they had heard was true – that the Edisto River had spilled over, flooding the surrounding area.
Clifton Stroman, who lives on Cannon Bridge Road, said driving to work Monday morning wasn’t a problem.
“Getting home is going to be the problem,” he said.
“I just came through here last night, at about 7:30, and we didn’t have any of this,” Bryant Fuller said. “That water is, literally, from the river all the way to the Bi-Lo parking lot. Wow.”
Dr. Charles Zeigler, a professor at South Carolina State University who lives about three blocks from the flooded area, said there was no water standing on the road when he dropped his son, Travis, off for work at the Walmart market.
“I’m 63 years old, and this is the first time in my entire life I have ever seen anything like this,” he said, looking out in awe at the covered road.
“Orangeburg is a place where we pretty much don’t get bad weather. I never thought I would ever see something like this. This has got to be a once-in-a-lifetime situation here,” he said.
Among the last to leave the store was Assistant Manager Janet Berry. She said she tried to stay as long as she could, but was told she needed to leave.
“When we saw this right here, we couldn’t stay. We have to be safe,” she said. “This is just so unbelievable.”