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Flash floods trap residents, wash out roads in North Carolina

Severe thunderstorms across western North Carolina dumped nearly a foot of rain Saturday, causing flash floods that trapped residents and washed out roads.

Officials in Catawba County were called to about 10 swift-water rescues, Mark Pettit, assistant director of emergency services for Catawba County, said.

He said some residents had become trapped in their homes or drove their cars into flooded areas. One person had to be rescued after he tried to help retrieve a vehicle swept into a creek. “Now it’s a river,” Pettit said.

No serious injuries and only one minor injury were reported in Catawba County.

Parts of Catawba and surrounding counties remained flooded late Saturday, although the rain had stopped.  Pettit said he had never seen such instantaneous and destructive flooding in his 8 1/2 years in Catawba County. More than 9 inches of rain fell in six hours.

Some residents were hit with power outages, Pettit said, and more could lose power near Lookout Shoals Lake and the Catawba River if water levels continue to rise. The county declared a state of emergency, and Pettit said people living near water had been encouraged to evacuate.

By Saturday night, Duke Energy was reporting that only a few hundred homes remained without power.

At the storm’s peak Saturday afternoon, 60 roads were flooded and closed. Pettit said at least seven roads would need to remain closed for about three months for repairs.

National Weather Service forecasts showed that the rain was moving eastward across western North Carolina and South Carolina.

“We’re hoping the worst is behind us,” Pettit said.


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Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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