|Posted on Fri, Sep. 17, 2004|
Ivan remnants drench mountains
AP: Six dead in the N.C. mountains.
The Charlotte Observer
Mountain residents should expect still more flooding and mudslides. And tornadoes could spin off as far east as Raleigh today. "If you're told to evacuate, evacuate," Easley said. "Don't wait for the floodwaters to come to your doorstep." State officials are scrambling to investigate possible dam breaks caused by the hurricane's remnants.
The six deaths include: two caused by a house collapse in Macon County; one in Henderson County, caused by a tree falling on a house; two in Buncombe County caused when a truck crossing a flooded area was swept away; and one in Haywood County. Details weren't available on the Haywood County fatality.
Macon, Avery and Mitchell counties seem to have sustained some of the worst damage from the flooding and high winds that battered the mountains overnight, officials said. Hundreds of people have been evacuated from their homes in Jackson, Macon, Buncombe, Mitchell, Avery, Haywood, Transylvania and Henderson counties.
About 150,000 people were without power across North Carolina. In Avery County, west of Boone, the emergency command center had to move to the second floor of its building to avoid the rising waters. Emergency officials ask that mountain residents do not leave their homes unless they've been told to evacuate. Many roads are closed, and emergency crews need to use the ones that are open.
Bands of wind and rain tore through the Charlotte area Friday morning. A flood watch and a high wind warning remain in effect for the region, but the National Weather Service may downgrade the wind warning to an advisory later this afternoon, Meteorologist Larry Lee said. "We're definitely on an improving trend," he said. "The threat of excessive rainfall seems to be gone, too."
The area should see light rain this afternoon; the severe thunderstorms predicted earlier Friday look less likely to happen, Lee said. One of the bands hit between 7 and 8 a.m., just in time for rush hour. Some commuters reported violent rain and wind that made for scary driving. Medic and the N.C. Highway Patrol reported no more wrecks than during a typical rush hour, but the Charlotte Fire Department said the accidents seemed to be caused by poor visibility.
Most of the eastern half of North Carolina is under a tornado watch. The Mountains Rescue crews have completed almost 200 rescue missions in western North Carolina since Thursday night, said Capt. Rob Brisley of the Charlotte Fire Department, working for N.C. Emergency Management in Hickory. Overnight, they could track the storm by the emergency calls coming in, he said. "We're making very good progress in Macon County and Haywood County, as far as reaching the isolated areas and searching homes," he said.
Crews from Raleigh and Greenville were planning to relieve the rescuers who have been working all night and all morning, he said. Emergency Management is planning a 4 p.m. press conference to announce its plan for shelters, which will be a good starting point for figuring out who might be missing in the storm. "A concern for many areas of North Carolina is accountability for the many citizens that live there," Brisley said. The N.C. National Guard had about 110 National Guard members helping with rescues, a number that will increase to 245 today, Maj. Chris Simpson said. Another 5,000 members are on alert, he said.
In Macon County, the Little Tennessee River is flooded. The courthouse in Franklin is closed, and the water system shut down. The fatalities were in the Peek Creek area, near Highlands.
The U.S. Forest Service has closed all recreation areas in the Pisgah and Nantahala national forests. All forest roads that are not through roads or do not access private property are closed.
In the northern N.C. mountains, Avery County bore the brunt of the storm. The Newland area experienced bad flooding, but heavy rains and wind affected the entire county, said Avery County emergency management spokesman Jack Hughes.
About 20 roads were closed in Avery and power outages were widespread. Ten inches of rain had fallen by 10 a.m., causing all streams in the county to overflow their banks in the Linville and Toe river watersheds.
"We're working with a real, real bad situation. It's much worse than the one last week, and the one last week was the worst I'd seen," Hughes said. "The ground was saturated, and mud slides are sliding much quicker." Rescuers pulled 19 people out of flooded homes and into a shelter, Hughes said. "Most people know that they're in a flood prone area, but they wait until the last minute, and this time they waited a little too long." Avery County Schools were closed. Water in downtown Newland was knee-high, with businesses flooded and roads washed out.
The Catawba Valley
Burke County, which also suffered from Hurricane Frances rain, again has severe flooding.
The Jonas Ridge area of Burke, near Avery, had the worst conditions Friday morning, with heavy flooding and extensive power outages, though there high winds killed power in isolated areas throughout the county. By 10 a.m., eight inches of rain had fallen in Jonas Ridge and swelled the Linville River out of banks again, Emergency Management Director Clint Patton said.
Emergency workers took a generator and oxygen to a Jonas Ridge rest home that was without power. There were reports of people trapped in cars and on top of their homes.
County emergency management officials issued mandatory evacuation notices Thursday in the Fonta Flora area around Lake James, based on the history of flooding there. Several roads in Burke were closed, including parts of N.C. 183 and N.C. 181.
Burke County Schools were closed.
In nearby Caldwell County, heavy flooding inundated the northwest corner in the Wilson Creek and Globe communities near Avery County. Wilson Creek and the Johns River overflowed their banks after about 8 inches of rain fell throughout the night and morning.
A dozen people were in shelters Friday morning after flood waters forced them from their homes, emergency management spokesman Larry Price said. A school bus driver headed to pick up children this morning was trapped in rising flood waters in Globe when trees fell in front of and behind the bus.
Emergency workers rescued her unharmed, Price said.
Thursday, emergency officials urged Edgemont area residents to leave their homes. Firefighters drove through that community early Friday morning after waters started rising rapidly to warn people to evacuate. Collettsville Elementary School was closed due to flooding, and children were taken home from the school Friday morning. Power outages were scattered throughout the county.
In Buncombe County
Buncombe County officials reported two fatalities, in the Leicester area near Asheville. Three men in a truck were attempting to cross a flooded area and were swept away. One of the men was saved.
Overnight wind and rain brought widespread power outages to Buncombe County, where 80,000 Progress Energy customers were without electricity early Friday morning, county officials said.
About 40,000 customers were without electricity in Asheville, city officials said. The storm toppled trees and flooded several parts of the county, said county spokesman Rhett Langston.
By 7 a.m., about 150 Buncombe County roads were closed, and officials reported a mudslide on N.C. 9 in Black Mountain.
Just over 130 people were in shelters, Langston said. Asheville workers evacuated about 70 people into shelters, city officials said.
Both the French Broad and Swannanoa rivers, which converge in Asheville, breached their banks early Friday morning, city officials said.
Officials expect the Swannanoa to crest at 16 feet -- 5 feet over flood stage, the county's Langston said. The French Broad was expected to crest at 16 feet, which is 4 feet above flood stage, Langston said. Workers in Black Mountain, a Buncombe County town of about 7,500 that was hard hit by last week's storm, evacuated about 150 people from flooded areas early Friday morning, city spokesman Ron Nalley said. Nalley said that he thought that in one case, workers had to use a rescue boat to reach residents.
About 40 to 50 percent of the town's residents were without power Friday, and there were nearly 20 spots where electrical lines were caught up in downed trees, Nalley said.
One person was reported killed near the Henderson County community of Flat Rock, when strong winds blew down a tree than fell into a house in the Crooked Creek subdivision off Newport Road.
In Haywood County, where the towns of Clyde and Canton were extremely hard hit by the remnants of Hurricane Frances, the town of Waynesville is experiencing unprecedented flooding, National Weather Service Meteorologist Wayne Jones said. About 200 people were staying in the shelter in Haywood County.
Interstate 40 is down to one lane between exits 33 and 37 in Haywood County due to a mudslide, officials said. The town of Canton is cut off because of the mudslide and a rockslide on another nearby road. In Clyde, water is over U.S. 74, and the Clyde Fire Department evacuated from its building. The fire department building didn't flood last week.
Staff Writers Sharif Durhams, Steve Lyttle, Heather Howard, Sarah Jane Tribble, Hannah Mitchell and Jim Wrinn contributed.
Six dead in the N.C. mountains~ Ivan remnants still deadly
(((Xandria))) Stay safe!
I thought this Ivan Hurricane was over and done with..
Man, 6 dead. That's horrible.
All it brought us was tornado watches, high winds, rain and some flooding in our area. In others it was much much worse! Thanks for the well wishes. Again we are battening down the hatches for Jeanne.