Disastrous North Carolina Flooding- 4 Deceased

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North Carolina Flooding
Image By Lukas Hron - Unsplash Copyright 2021

Heavy Rain Led To Flash Flooding In Raleigh- September 2021

In September 2021, heavy rain to the east of the Raleigh area led to flash floods that closed roads and slowed traffic. The downpours led to a Flash Flood Warning for central Wake County, including Raleigh and the other regions.

Raleigh
Raleigh – Photo By Rich BrentsUnsplash Copyright 2020

However, at least one water rescue was reported when a car was swamped on the 3200 block of Atlantic Avenue just after 11:30 am, and police blocked lanes of the 440 Beltline near the exit of Glenwood Avenue as parts of the highway was flooded with water around noon. 

Tropical moisture from the Tropical Storm “Mindy” was pulled in with the cold front moving through central North Carolina, resulting in heavy rains. Even though the rain was tapered off, the Flash Flood Warning continued till 2:30 pm.  

North Carolina Flooding- Tropical Storm “Fred”- August 2021

Two people died in Canton, North Carolina, and search parties were put together to look for others who got lost amid severe western North Carolina flooding. Tropical Storm Fred swamped and washed away homes and roads.

Around twenty people were unaccounted for in Haywood County, located west of Asheville. County authorities reported that Fred slammed the whole area as a tropical depression. Governor Roy Cooper toured the room and said two victims drowned, and their names were not released in the press by officials.

More than two hundred rescuers searched for the missing in that county using boats and drones, as stated by emergency management officials. During the whole ordeal, the residents were shocked looking at the changing landscape of Transylvania County.

Cheri Mincey told CNN affiliate WLOS that her mobile home in Haywood County was swept away by rushing floodwater while she was still in it until it came to rest against a tree. She lost everything she owned, along with her mobile home.

Around two hundred water rescues were done, as stated by the Governor of North Carolina. However, about 35 people were still unaccounted for after the western North Carolina flooding.

Cooper also said that the search and rescue efforts did not stop until they knew where people were or found everyone. Officials utilized cell phone tracking and other ways to find those who were unaccounted for or thought to be missing, according to the 911 reports.

The North Carolina flooding happened because of heavy rains in western North Carolina that received more than ten inches for days. Rainfall already exceeded five inches in just one day in the Haywood County community of Canton, as explained by the weather service. Moreover, it swelled the Pigeon River to more than nine feet above flood stage, the highest level since 2004.

Pigeon River - Haywood County
Pigeon River – Haywood County – Image By US Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast RegionFlickr Copyright 2013

The county emergency services department also explained that the county roads, especially around the community of Cruso, received significant damage because of North Carolina flooding and washouts. Along with that, ten to fifteen bridges were damaged or destroyed.

Cruso, which is about a thirty-minute drive southwest of Asheville, had some of the worst destruction that Director Travis Donaldson of Emergency Services saw in his entire life. Sheriff Greg Christopher of Haywood County stated that state transportation personnel worked to rebuild bridges and roads to send more help for people who needed it.

The football field was heavily damaged about 75 yards from the river. Volunteers cleared debris and salvaged athletic equipment at the football field shared by Canton Middle School and Pisgah High School. Even the Canton Middle School received a lot of damage to its campus, as the principal, Casey Kruk.

Seven to eight feet of water came through the area and entered classrooms in some schools resulting in muddy messes. Also, hundreds of townspeople, students, and folks from nearby counties came out and helped clear up the confusion.

That week on Thursday was a day for tearing down destroyed fences and moving trash to one place. Later, the repairs started to build back whatever little was left. The co-owner of BearWater Brewing Company, Art O’Neil, said that the waters immersed their packaging operations.

All of the equipment under the water was taken out and assessed to see anything could be saved. Also, the beer lab and its research and quality control equipment were in the same basement that was flooded.

Canton, a community of about 4000 people, was filled with floodwater and overturned machinery at American Cleaners. This tornado storm was brought upon by a once in fifty-year rainfall rate in Canton. Overall, this rainfall rate in Canton, NC, exceeded 2.3 inches per hour.

More than five inches of rain fell in a twenty-four-hour window, which was impossible in the past. On average, a similar event happens only once every fifty years, according to the data presented by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Day-by-day, humans are responsible for climate change like increased rainfall rates, especially in landfilling tropical systems. Scientists are saying that warmer air can hold more water vapour in the atmosphere hence causing drastic weather changes.

A most recent major report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated that the frequency and intensity of heavy precipitation events have increased since the 1950s over most land areas. Also, humans are likely responsible for such climate change.

United Nations
Image By padrinanPixabay Copyright 2020

Fred made landfall in the Florida Panhandle at Cape San Blas on Monday afternoon with maximum winds of 65 miles per hour. Later it was downgraded to a tropical depression as it lost its strength over land.

The North Carolina flooding of the Pigeon River running along the base of the Appalachian Mountains was marked as historic. Several towns like Cruso and Bethel were affected and suffered some of the worst destruction.

Long after the water receded, people were still grappling with the destruction. Authorities estimated that the damage displaced around 500 families, and some lost their homes entirely. Also, rockslides closed vital roads, a college’s hallways were flooded, and at least ten bridges were damaged or destroyed.

In 2004, Pat – Smathers’ father – was the mayor during the historic hurricane, and North Carolina flooding struck the town. However, Canton received comparatively more damage this time as most of the destruction was concentrated in rugged, rural areas located south of town. At a news conference, Smathers and Senator Thom Tillis spoke about the damage after surveying North Carolina flooding.

Kim Ferguson, a pharmacist who was renovating a building, wanted to become a second pharmacy. This building sat more than 3 feet off the ground on a cinder-block foundation, ending under two feet underwater.

Ferguson was one of the lucky ones, whereas one Canton alderman wasn’t so fortunate as his home was swept off its foundation. The lead pastor at New Covenant Church in Clyde, North Carolina, Blake Stanbery, said people had only a few minutes to evacuate and seek safety when floodwaters can come down from the Pigeon River.

He also said many businesses and homes were damaged or destroyed along with important establishments, which served as a safety net for impoverished residents, including the Canton Community Kitchen. The high school students were relocated after a scheduled meeting by the county school board.

On 21st August 2021, more deaths were reported after the intense flooding. Furthermore, emergency officials carried out damage inspections after the devastating floods in Haywood County, NC. A total of four people lost their lives in the floods after officials added the two fatalities on 20th August. 

Five people remained unaccounted for, which dropped considerably from the initial 35. More than a hundred people and more than twenty pets were rescued from floodwaters in western counties.

After the State of Emergency was issued, an emergency operations plan was triggered, and transportation rules were waived to help first responders and the agricultural industry. This also covered the counties of McDowell, Jackson, Mitchell, Madison, Transylvania, Rutherford, and Yancey. The governor sought federal assistance for additional relief through the state budget and a plan to make the community more resilient for future storms.

History Of Western North Carolina

Hurricane
Image By JD DesignsUnsplash Copyright 2021

Western North Carolina did suffer tremendously destructive floods in the past during tropical weather. In 1916, there was a fatal flood when two low systems converged over the area and dumped more than twenty inches of rain near Asheville, North Carolina. Almost 80 people were believed to die during that tragic event. After that, the same area experienced major flooding in 2004 because of Hurricane Ivan passing through.

Corey Davis is the Assistant State Climatologist and stated that the area is liable to North Carolina flooding because the landscape is like an egg carton. If water is dumped on top of it, it will pour down the mountains and flood the communities at the bottom. Data going back hundred years shows that the most recent event was not an isolated one, but at the same time, it is not something that happens every 5-10 years.

Davis also stated that as the climate continues to warm, it will create the right conditions for more rain hence heavy rainfall will become more common. Also, hurricanes in the future are most likely to become more frequent and rainier.

Flash Floods – November 2020

In just two days, 250mm or 9 inches of rain fell in parts of NC in November 2020, causing a hard-hit North Carolina flooding. It was reported that in Rayleigh, almost 250mm or more than 9 inches of rain fell in Rocky Mount by the National Weather Service. Also, these rains were brought by the moisture from Topical Storm Eta colliding with a cold front.

That time, at least three people died, and thirty-one were rescued after the flash floods happened through a camping ground bear the South Yadkin River. Moreover, three people were still thought to be missing after everything subsided. One person died in Alexander County when floodwaters destroyed a bridge in another separate incident.

Eastern North Carolina

Eastern North Carolina has a record-setting flood caused by Hurricane Floyd in 1999. This was a particularly hard-hit flood that resulted in 66 of the state’s 100 counties becoming disaster areas. Also, the North Carolinians who lived in the mountains received awful floods in 2004. These were caused by the leftovers of the previous disastrous hurricanes. 

In short, flash floods are incredibly dangerous as natural disasters. However, they are especially dangerous in the mountains as they can move very fast, causing landslides. Along with that, the waters uproot trees, roll boulders, and destroy all the bridges and buildings in the way.

To be precise, this is why Hurricane Floyd was given the title – the priciest natural disaster in NC’s history. However, it was later surpassed by Hurricane Florence in 2018.  

After the storm passed, the name Floyd was removed from the Atlantic hurricane naming list, and the US government provided NC almost three hundred million dollars in disaster-related assistance. That particular hurricane was a long-tracked Cape Verde hurricane, which jeopardized to strike Florida for several days.

When Floyd moved away from Florida, the National Hurricane Center issued various warnings and watches for the East Coast of the US. Later, the NHC issued a hurricane lookout for the NC coast, which included two different sounds.

That watch was upgraded to hurricane warning just 6 hours later, and it was dismissed a couple of days later. Local Weather Forecast Offices in Wilmington, Raleigh, Morehead City, NC, and Virginia, Wakefield, issued various flash floods, river, flood, and tornado warnings.

Over 200 hours in advance, the local weather forecast office alerted the residents about North Carolina flooding along the Neuse River. Authorities had to open at least forty emergency shelters in NC for it. 

Conclusion

Flood
Image By George DesiprisPexels Copyright 2017

In short, floods are one of the most dangerous natural disasters for a reason, and they are common in the US. They can occur at any time of the year and just about anywhere in NC. Furthermore, these are only caused by huge amounts of rain, hurricanes, or in critical cases, dam failures.

Flooding is dangerous no matter where you are whether you are inside your house, driving a vehicle, or standing/walking on foot. A few inches of water level can knock you right off your feet or sweep away your car or transportation. Find a safe place during storms and floods and never try to drive through flooded roadways. Most importantly, stay away from swollen streams and rivers.

Learn more about floods and severe weather on the following website – The NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL).

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