Family rescued by boat when home floods on Faith Road

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Shavonne Potts
At 6 Wednesday morning, water began seeping into Paul Baker’s Faith Road home. A few hours later, he and his family were taking a boat ride to drier land ó courtesy of the Rowan Rescue Squad.
Baker, a math professor at Catawba College, and six members of his family had to evacuate their home as waters from Crane Creek rose to about a foot deep inside the home they’ve lived in since 1975. The house was built in the 1940s.
“This is the worst it’s flooded,” Baker said, clutching a briefcase.
At least one other home near the Bakers’ also flooded, but the owners, Marcel and Phyllis Renn, chose to stay and wait for the waters to recede.
The Baker family had been putting belongings on high shelves before they had to leave.
The house flooding came as no surprise to Baker. “We figured it was going to flood because it rained all night,” he said.
The area near the intersection of Faith and Byrd roads, between Faith and Salisbury, has flooded in the past. The Bakers’ driveway used to be part of the old Faith Road, before the current road was paved, Baker said.
Wednesday morning, when it seemed as though there was no way they could stay, they packed a few bags and got into the Rowan County Rescue Squad boat.
“It was time for us to decide what we were going to do,” Baker said
The family, some wearing shoes and others carrying a spare pair in their hands, came to the water’s edge in two boats.
Arriving first were Paul Baker; his wife, Nancy; daughter, Genevieve, and her husband, Dale Lambert; and the Lamberts’ dog, Gracie, a Red Heeler.
Just a boat length behind were the Bakers’ son, Kolya; his wife, Elizabeth; and their son Andrew, 1.
Baker said the next few days will be interesting since the family left behind seven flooded vehicles. They do have insurance, Baker added.
The family also left behind about 18 goats, secured on higher ground.
About four years ago when a flood struck the Faith Road area, the Bakers lost about 10 goats, who drowned, Genevieve Lambert said.
Once they got out of the house, she worried what to do with Gracie. Luckily, she, Dale and Gracie are staying with friends.
The Red Cross is putting Baker and his wife in a local hotel, and Kolya Baker and his family are staying with friends.
Genevieve Lambert joked about her nephew Andrew wanting to play in the flood waters. It was like a large pool for the toddler. She jokingly told her brother to let Andrew wear his swimsuit.
“It’s that or else you have to cry,” she said.
The water reached about 3 feet deep around the Baker home and covered Marcel Renn’s beehives. The Renns own Renn Bee Farm.
Rowan County Emergency Management Director Frank Thomason said the Renns chose to stay in their home.
“You can recommend people leave. If they choose to stay, you can’t make them leave,” he said.
There was never any situation where the flood waters got so high that a mandatory evacuation was put in place, Thomason said.
“It’s unfortunate. They don’t realize how worse it gets,” he said.
Other rescues Wednesday involved motorists stranded in high water.
“It only takes a small depth of water to cause a vehicle to hydroplane and float,” Thomason said.
Tony Spears lives about a mile from the Bakers and the Renns, just over the bridge at 2790 Faith Road. He was up early Wednesday morning as he attempted to head to his construction job.
Then he got word that most of his employer’s work sites were muddied or flooded.
“It’s crippled us all up,” he said.
In his six years living on Faith Road, Spears has seen other floods but nothing this bad.
“This is one of the worst, especially coming off a drought,” he said.
The area, known as Bird Hill, has flooded in the past with heavy rains, Spears said.
He drove his Ford Taurus across the bridge at Crane Creek around 8:30 a.m., and the water continued rising.
“I was the last car to drive through,” he said.
Dressed in a military hooded jacket, Spears walked down Faith Road to check on his neighbors and see the extent of water damage.