Update, noon: Waters rise around Rowan

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Staff report
Emergency responders across Rowan and Cabarrus counties went into the rescue, evacuation and detour modes this morning as streams flooded from the heavy rains inundating the area.
The Rowan County Rescue Squad used boats to retrieve at least a half dozen people whose homes became islands when Crane Creek overflowed at Faith and Byrd roads. (See accompanying story.)
Animal control officers also were called in for the possible rescue of animals stranded in those waters.
Residents from Kannapolis Village Long Term Care were evacuated about 4 a.m. and taken first to a nearby elementary school before being moved to a sister facility in Winston-Salem.
Flooding also pushed into several mobile home parks, forcing the evacuation of Wagstaff Trailer Park in Kannapolis. Water from Town Creek was knee deep in a trailer park along Bringle Ferry Road, although an evacuation had not been ordered as of 9:40 a.m.
Close to 10 a.m., Rowan County Sheriffís deputies reported that a family was stranded by flood waters in the 900 block of Old Highway 80. But the people in the house refused help, saying they could leave in another direction if needed.
Some Rowan-Salisbury school buses werenít able to navigate their usual routes this morning, causing some students to get to school late. Rowan-Salisbury schools started at their regular times, but Kannapolis City Schools were running on a two-hour delay.
In Salisbury, Town Creek escaped its banks in the area of East Innes Street near Interstate 85 and Arlington Street. The waters rose toward businesses such as Circle K, Verizon Wireless, Firestone, Starbucks and Blue Bay.
One motorist, who attempted to go through the flooding with his pickup, failed to make it, leading to a rescue operation for the Salisbury Fire Department.
Kelly Yates, who was on her way to work, stopped when she saw the flooding to take photographs, and she documented the manís attempt to go through the water with his Toyota pickup. He eventually just sat on top of his truck and waited for help.
Two other people were stranded in a car at the Blue Bay restaurant.
Yates described all the flooding in the East Innes Street-Arlington Street area as Salisburyís new lake. Many other Salisburians stopped on the edge of the flooding to take photographs, often with their cell phones.
Water at the Circle K was rising up the gas pumps.
Emergency personnel also shut down exit ramps from Interstate 85 in this area.
Burger King employee Nikkarrius Luckey described the scene as being worse this morning at about 4:30. She said the parking lot was swamped then, but it had cleared by 9 a.m. and people were looking over flooded Town Creek while getting their breakfast supplies.
She said she watched a motorist in a sport utility vehicle drive through the water and wave as she made it safely. Luckey said she took some pictures on her cell phone to document the flooding, which she said was the worst she had ever seen.
The creek was overflowing at the back of Bojangleís, closing the drive-through area but not the restaurant itself.
An industrial blue trash bin was in the middle of Innes Street in the floodwaters along with smaller trash cans and trees floating by.
The water covered all the new landscaping the city and Department of Transportation had done at the interchange.
A car overturned in water on Liberty Road near Morgan Road in eastern Rowan County, according to radio scanner traffic. The teenage driver in the car escaped unharmed.
At one point, a school bus driver reported being stranded and floating in high water on Glover Road, but scanner transmissions later said the bus had made it through.
In general, Rowan County soaked up more than 8 inches of rain since Monday afternoon.
The Piedmont Research Station in western Rowan County reported that 5.4 inches of rain fell between 8 a.m. Tuesday and 8 a.m. today.
Billy Overman, a longtime weather observer in Rockwell, reported 7.22 inches of rain since the storm system came in Monday afternoon. Though it wasnít scientific by any means, personnel at the Rowan County Airport said they had measured close to 12 inches of rain.
At Goodnightís store near Enochville, employees measured 7.33inches of rain between 8 a.m. Tuesday and 8 a.m. today. In addition, the store had recorded .91 inches for the 24-hour period prior to that.
The Kannapolis water plant recorded 6.79 inches between Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. For the 24-hour period before that, the water plant measured an additional 1.77 inches.
Steve Weatherford, head of the cityís street division, said East Innes Street near I-85 was the cityís worst situation. Flooding also was reported near Knox Middle School, on Mocksville Avenue at Eagle Heights and in the Country Club of Salisbury/Confederate Avenue/City Lake area.
Weatherford said the flooding in several Salisbury locations wasnít because the catch basins were blocked. Rather, when the creeks are full, thereís no place for the water flowing into the catch basins to go, Weatherford said.
Buses werenít able to pass some high-water areas in Rowan, such as bridges on Glover and Shue roads, said Judy Burris, transportation director for the Rowan-Salisbury School System.
Burris said she didnít know how many students buses werenít able to pick up Wednesday morning. By about 9:05 a.m., her office had heard that buses were in at all schools except three ó Faith and Landis elementary schools and East Rowan High School.
Buses at some other schools, like Knox Middle and Overton, China Grove and Corriher-Lipe elementary schools, were delayed, Burris said.
A creek rose near the campuses of Knox and Overton schools. By the time school was in session, the water had receded and cars and buses could pass through.
ěThe creeks are our main problem,î Burris said. ěThe bridges in the rural areas.î
School bus drivers are trained to not drive through high water, Burris said. When drivers called the transportation office with concerns about particular areas, a law-enforcement officer, school system mechanic or bus route supervisor went to the scene, she said.
Burris said students will not be considered late for school today. Students who were not able to ride the bus will likely have excused absences.
Kannapolis City Schools opted for a two-hour delay to give water time to recede, said Ellen Boyd, spokeswoman for the school system.
ěThere were too many flooded roads,î she said.
Some 20 roads were closed in the Concord area.
The Kannapolis Village Long-term Care facility and Wagstaff Trailer Park were evacuated early this morning in Kannapolis due to flooding.
Fifty-one occupants from Kannapolis Village Long-term Care and 12 occupants from the trailer park were moved temporarily to Fred L. Wilson Elementary School, then to the Kannapolis YMCA for shelter.
Refuge also is available at the Kannapolis YMCA for those that can not safely reach their primary residence. The American Red Cross will be providing shelter updates at www.cabarruscounty.redcross.org.
Safrit Park has been closed in Kannapolis, as were several roads, including Sloop Road, Trinity Church at Laugenour, Dogwood Boulevard, Dakota Street, Orphanage Road at North Cabarrus Park, Lane Street at Carolyn, Oakwood Avenue at Stonewyck and Moose Road at Lake Fisher bridge.
Rain could continue over the next couple of days with showers, according to forecasters.
Weatherford said Salisbury Police, Salisbury Fire, his street crews and state Department of Transportation workers were responding to the East Innes Street flooding.
Overall, crews with Salisbury-Rowan Utilities were dealing with several residential sewer backups and scattered areas of flooding, City Manager David Treme said.
Post staffers Wayne Hinshaw, Frank DeLoache, Paris Goodnight, Sarah Nagem, Deirdre Parker-Smith, Brad Thomas and Mark Wineka contributed to this story.