Nov. 12—At least six people died following intense flooding that wreaked havoc across the Charlotte region Thursday as flood waters closed roads and parts of Interstate 85, and led to water rescues, power outages and property damage.
Three of the people died after waters engulfed the Hiddenite Family Campground in Alexander County, about an hour north of Charlotte, Sheriff Chris Bowman said. Two people remained unaccounted for, including a 1-year-old, and 31 people were rescued from the 30-acre campground along the South Yadkin River.
The search for those missing ended at 6 p.m. and will resume at 8 a.m. Friday, officials said.
Another person in Alexander County died after their car ran off the road and into water, Bowman said. Two more people were killed in a wreck outside of Statesville Thursday morning while going too fast "for the wet conditions ... and hydroplaned," the N.C. State Highway Patrol said.
Meanwhile, sections of I-85 were closed in the Charlotte area Thursday morning from the rain that also knocked out power to thousands and forced water rescues across the region.
All of I-85 reopened in Mecklenburg and Cabarrus counties by about noon, DOT spokeswoman Jen Thompson said. Part of Mallard Creek Road near Interstate 485 is closed until crews can repair damage caused by flooding, she said. A detour is in place.
Sections of Jeff Adams Drive and Freedom Drive in Charlotte also remained closed Thursday evening, Thompson said.
9 inches of rain
Charlotte firefighters were busy throughout the day.
They responded to 112 flood incidents, rescuing 23 people from homes and 12 from stranded cars, Chief Reginald Johnson said Thursday afternoon. In all, 63 roads across Mecklenburg County were closed, as a flash flood warning continued until 6 p.m.
Heavy flooding forced the evacuation of 143 people at a charter school on David Taylor Drive in the University area, Charlotte fire officials said. No one was hurt, according to the fire department, which tweeted video of submerged cars in the school parking lot. Public records identify the school as Corvian Community School.
At least 5 inches of rain had fallen along I-85 from near uptown Charlotte through northeastern Mecklenburg since Wednesday, according to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg flood information rain gauge map.
Over two days, through Thursday afternoon, the storm dumped nearly 9 inches of rain on uptown Charlotte, according to the National Weather Service.
'I am utterly destroyed'
In addition to homes, flood waters also damaged some businesses in the city.
"With a heavy heart, our beloved Batch House is underwater," Cristina Rojas-Agurcia, owner of the Charlotte bakery on Bryant Street, posted on Instagram. "The water was up to my upper thigh as we left. I am utterly destroyed..."
Elsewhere in Charlotte, a person was rescued from the top of a car caught in floodwaters on Brookshire Boulevard at Idaho Drive, police said. And just before 9:30 a.m., a car was reported stuck in flood waters on Hampton Avenue in Myers Park. Rodman Street in Grier Heights was down to one lane because of flooding, police said.
About 2,300 Duke Energy customers in Mecklenburg County were without power at 11 a.m., by far the highest number of any county in the Carolinas. About 8,600 customers lost power across the two states. Only about 300 customers in Mecklenburg still had no power at 12:30 p.m.
Power also was knocked out at Charlotte PBS station WTVI, which CPCC licenses, campus officials said.
UNC Charlotte urged anyone not already on campus to stay away due to the widespread area flooding. Central Piedmont Community College warned drivers to move any cars parked in a lot behind Central High on its Central Campus because "the lot is flooding right now."
And Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation officials urged people to stay off greenways and away from its parks until Friday. "Many of our parks are closed due to flooding, including Freedom, Kirk Farm Fields, McAlpine and Renaissance," officials tweeted Thursday, saying workers needed to "clear debris and clean up the parks."
Clark's Creek Greenway was completely submerged.
The floods came a day after Charlotte set a record high temperature for Nov. 11 at 82 degrees. That broke the previous mark of 78 degrees set in 1890, according to the NWS.
Flooding on I-85, and near I-77
Few parts of the region were unscathed by the torrents.
Flood waters closed I-85 at Little Rock Road in Charlotte for hours Thursday morning. One of four southbound I-85 lanes near the Graham Street exit in uptown Charlotte also saw standing water, according to the state Department of Transportation.
Standing water also closed one of five southbound I-85 lanes at the Poplar Tent Road exit in Concord in the morning, according to the DOT.
Thirteen residents of McDaniel Lane in Charlotte were rescued from their homes, along with eight residents near Spruce Street and two on John Price Road, Chief Johnson said. On Riverside Drive, firefighters were going door-to-door to notify residents about expected flooding, according to the fire chief.
In Iredell County, two bridges were "completely washed out" and at least three others sustained damage, according to the state DOT.
In Huntersville, Sam Furr Road was closed due to flooding at Northcross Drive off Interstate 77 Exit 25 and Gilead Road at Mercer Drive off Exit 23, police said.
In Davidson, Robert Walker Drive between Westbranch and Bradford Springs was closed, town officials said. In Concord, various areas "are experiencing significant flash flooding," city officials said Thursday morning.
Multiple roads in Cabarrus County were closed because of flooding, NCDOT said, including Drakestone Road in Kannapolis, Dutch Road in Mount Pleasant and Old Airport Road in Concord.
And in Charlotte, heavy rains caused a "wastewater overflow" on Montford Drive, spilling about 3,600 gallons into Little Hope Creek in the Catawba River watershed, city officials said.
Tim Trautman, a program manager at Mecklenburg County Storm Water Services, urged residents to clear leaves and debris from storm drains in the coming days. "Just about everywhere you live or drive has been impacted by this rain that's moving through," he said.
But so far, Trautman said, there hasn't been widespread flooding in homes and businesses. The public is encouraged to report flood incidents to 311.
In Alexander County, a bridge collapsed "live on air" as a FOX 46 Charlotte crew filmed a swollen river. "Close call!" the station tweeted. The county, which saw a total of at least four deaths, had 7 to 10 inches of rain overnight, officials said. Four bridges or roads were washed out.
High lake levels
Lookout Shoals Lake north of Charlotte crested at more than 8 feet above full pond, Duke Energy said. Its dam was spilling water, a process that was expected to continue for several days.
Close to Charlotte, Mountain Island Lake was within inches of full pond by late Thursday morning and was expected to rise 2 feet higher, Duke said on its website.
"Because rainfall amounts can be unpredictable, it is difficult to estimate peak lake levels until the rain event has concluded," the website says.
The rain finally let up early Thursday afternoon. The chance of showers fell to 30% for late in the afternoon and 20% Thursday night, according to the latest NWS forecast.
Friday should be mostly cloudy through mid-morning, followed by gradual clearing, according to the NWS. Saturday should be all sunshine but cooler, with a forecast high of 64 degrees.
Staff writers Alison Kuznitz, Mark Price, Melissa Oyler and Bruce Henderson, and correspondent Steve Lyttle, contributed.
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