Flooding forces evacuations, road closures and State of Emergency in parts of NC

Flooding forces evacuations, road closures and State of Emergency in parts of NC
25th Ave Dr NW in Hickory was washed out after the water burst a culvert. (Source: John Sparks)

HIGH COUNTRY, N.C. (WBTV) - Caldwell and Catawba counties were placed under a State of Emergency and a community in Mecklenburg County was evacuated as flooding threatened the areas Sunday.

Several school districts, including those in Catawaba County, Newton-Conover and Watauga County, were also impacted by the flooding.

The Catawba County Board of Commissioners declared a State of Emergency for the entire region due to flooding issues that had been caused by excessive rainfall over the weekend. Later Sunday, Caldwell County officials announced that they too were in a State of Emergency.

Flooding in Lookout Shoals
Flooding in Lookout Shoals

The rainfall led to what is described as “severe flooding” as well as damage to roads and other infrastructure, hazardous travel conditions, widespread power outages and the need for many water rescues throughout the county.

Sunday afternoon, with conditions continuing to worsen, Catawba County Schools announced that they would be cancelling classes on Monday to prevent students and parents from driving in dangerous conditions. Newton-Conover Schools announced shortly afterward that they would be operating on a two-hour delay on Monday for students and staff as well.

Watauga County Schools operated on a one-hour delay Monday and buses ran their normal route.

By declaring the emergency, both counties could begin a “coordinated response” to the recovery efforts throughout the region as Catawba County emergency services works in collaboration with nearby emergency response partners.

A fawn was rescued from flood waters in Granite Falls Sunday.

On Sunday evening, Caldwell County announced that the Valmead Substation Facility would be doing storm-related maintenance, causing power outages starting at 7 p.m. that lasted about two hours.

Click HERE for a full list of closings and delays

This power outage affected Lenoir on 321 to Grace Chapel area. The areas affected included: Lenoir, 18N, HWY 90, Cedar Rock Country Club, West towards Connelly Springs, affecting most of the southern part of Caldwell County. Customers with a valid phone number will be contacted.

Later on Sunday, the Charlotte Mecklenburg Emergency Management Organization announced that residents along Riverside Drive were being evacuated near the Catawba River as flooding issues had arrived. The Red Cross set up a shelter for these residents at Hopewell High School for Sunday night.

Hopewell High School is located at 11530 Beatties Ford Road in Huntersville.

The foothills received between eight and 14 inches of rain, WBTV meteorologist Al Conklin says, while the Charlotte area received around 3 inches of rain.

On Monday, water was receding across the foothills, leaving behind a lot of damage. In Burke, Caldwell, Alexander and Catawba counties there were dozens of roads closed because of washouts, sinkholes, and bridges that collapsed. DOT Spokesperson David Uchiyama says the assessment of the damage has not been complete.

“We need for all the water to go back to normal to be able to adequately assess the damage,” he explained.

Repairs could took weeks or longer, Uchiyama says, depending on what issues need to be resolved. Washed out bridges will likely take the longest to fix and be the most costly. While the state will address that damage, there are other problems they can’t.

The bridge on Blue Door School Road that serves 18 families washed away in Caldwell County but DOT won’t be fixing it. It is a private road and the maintenance responsibility of those who use it.

“We could use some help, for sure,” said resident James Johnson, who added, “Everybody up here don’t have a lot of money.”

Residents in the neighborhood are hoping a disaster declaration will come for the foothills. That could open up some avenues for funding. In the meantime, emergency officials are surveying damaged areas to be sure they have some type of access in, just in case.

Conklin said more rain was expected Monday.

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