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Fay-spawned storms cut power in western N.C.

ASHEVILLE (AP) ó Forecasters issued a flash flood watch Tuesday morning for nearly a dozen western North Carolina counties and a tornado watch for two others as remnants of Tropical Storm Fay brought heavy rains and cut power to thousands of customers.
Farmers and water system officials hoped the rain would ease a drought that has been at its worst in 21 western North Carolina counties.
The National Weather Service issued the flash flood watch after the forecast showed rain was likely through Wednesday. A half inch of rain as measured at Asheville Regional Airport on Monday and more than 2 inches fell at Highlands in Macon County. Forecasters said 4 to 6 inches could fall in the region by Thursday.
The weather service said the tornado watch for Mecklenburg and Union counties was in effect until 7 p.m.
Progress Energy said damage from storm winds cut power to 3,500 customers in east Asheville. Scattered outages were reported elsewhere.
Emergency dispatchers said there were numerous reports of trees and power lines down and a few traffic accidents, the Asheville Citizen-Times reported.
To the east, flash flooding from a rain-swollen creek Monday evening closed a road near Concord for a few hours after 2 inches of rain fell. The Charlotte Observer reported that 3.42 inches of rain was recorded Monday at a Mecklenburg County school.
Drought has gripped the region for months. Rainfall at the Asheville airport through Monday was about 11 inches below normal.
One farmer said the rain was just what her crops needed.
ěWe have a lot of blackberries right now. It will help those,î said Annie Perkinson with Flying Cloud Farm in Fairview. ěAnd the sweet potatoes, it will put some size on them. Those will be harvested in September.î
In Hendersonville, the city manager said the rain could help the cityís dwindling water supplies.
Mandatory water restrictions have been in place because the flow in the Mills River is very low.
ěWeíre thrilled to get a good rain,î City Manager Bo Ferguson told the Hendersonville Times-News. ěThis is the first step to getting out of the drought situation we are in.î


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