Heavy rain, widespread flooding lead to states of emergency, closed schools in NC mountains, foothills

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — People in the mountains and foothills of North Carolina are dealing with the effects of devastating flooding after nearly three days of continuous heavy rainfall with even more rain likely Monday afternoon and evening, according to the First Warn Storm Team. 

Forecaster Larry Sprinkle said some areas in Burke, Caldwell and Catawba counties have seen up to 6 inches since Saturday, bringing the totals in some areas to well over a foot since the end of last week. 

“Later today (Monday), we have the opportunity for more showers and maybe even a couple of thunderstorms,” Sprinkle said. “The heavy rain moves in around 6 p.m. across the Charlotte metro area. We’ll have a break this weekend but we could get an inch, maybe 2 inches in the mountains, unfortunately.”

Further south, Mountain Island Lake rose to 106.7′ feet, the second-highest level on record. As of 1:05 p.m. Monday, the lake was down to 104.2 feet, according to Duke Energy, but the damage was already done to homes near the lake. Billie Jean Shaw spoke to people who live on Riverside Drive whose homes and cars were flooded early Monday. 

The floodwaters were up to the tops of street signs and covered yards across the area. A shelter was opened for displaced residents at Hopewell High School on Beatties Ford Road in Huntersville.

Here are the current warnings and watches:

  • Flood warning: Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Gaston, Iredell, Lancaster, Mecklenburg and York counties
  • Flash flood watch: Ashe, Avery, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Cleveland, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, Mecklenburg and Watauga counties. 

RELATED: Flood warning issued for Mountain Island Lake; neighbors prepare for worst

The Catawba River at Lookout Shoals Dam set its 2nd highest crest on record Sunday at 108.19 feet. The record is nearly 80-years-old.

RELATED: Apartment complex in Catawba Co. forced to evacuate due to severe flooding

The city of Hickory said the fire department performed 12 water rescues since Friday. At least two water rescues were reported in Alexander County and one in Caldwell County.

Damage reports include:

  • Road washed out on Rink Dam Rd. in Alexander County
  • Ridge Crest Apartments in Hickory evacuated due to high water
  • Several roads closed in Banner Elk including Green Rd. and Dobbins Rd.
  • Multiple waterline breaks in Hickory

In Catawba County, the board of commissioners declared a state of emergency Sunday morning. A full list of road closures in that area can be found here.

Catwaba County Schools and Catawba County Community College canceled classes for Monday. Watauga County Schools were under a one-hour delay Monday. 

Caldwell County declared a state of emergency as well.

On Saturday night. Highway Patrol reported three people died in what appeared to be a weather-related accident in Lincoln County. 

It happened just before 8 p.m. on Highway 27 in the area of Rock Dam Road. Troopers said the car hydroplaned, hit a tree, and overturned in a creek. 

“The creek waters were higher than normal due to heavy rainfall over the past two days. Rescue efforts were greatly hindered by extremely heavy rainfall at the time,” said troopers.

The victims were identified as 52-year-old Loyde Neal of Lincolnton and 22-year-old Sebastian Fredell, both of Lincolnton, and 46-year-old Jacob Abernathy of Shelby.

“If you live in a flood-prone area, make sure you have a way to get warnings,” said Panovich. “Flash flooding is very likely across the northwest Piedmont and Foothills.”

The rain is expected to linger through the beginning of next week with heavy showers and thunderstorms. There’s also the potential for landslides.

Panovich said almost half of North Carolina and nearly 90% of South Carolina reported dry to moderate drought conditions as of Friday. June 7 marked 26 days between measurable rainfall in Charlotte, making it the 13th longest dry streak in the city’s history. 

Emergency officials released the following safety tips:

  • Move to higher ground when flash flood warnings are issued. Don’t wait for instructions
  • Never drive into flooded areas or across flooded roads. If you cannot see the road, it may not be there
  • Do not walk through moving water. Just six inches of fast-moving water can knock over an adult
  • Follow detours and obey traffic barricades that close off roads
  • Never park or camp along streams, rivers or creeks