Downpour leaves Statesville Boulevard swamped

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 20, 2012

By Ronnie Gallagher
rgallagher@salisburypost.com
Chris Pelmear and Tiffany Clawson were driving west on Statesville Boulevard on their way to pay a bill Friday afternoon.
They didn’t make it.
A sudden, torrential downpour flooded the road and sent their Ford Escort floating toward the right-lane curb.
“The manhole just wouldn’t take it all,” Pelmear said of the rushing water. “I was right beside another car and with everybody else going by, it kinda pushed me toward the manhole. My car just stalled when it hit the water. When I got out, I was almost waist deep.”
Pelmear said he had no problem moving the car.
“It was like pushing a boat,” he laughed.
Clawson, sitting in the passenger side, said, “I was scared. I’ve never been in a floating car before.”
Firefighters eventually arrived and helped Pelmear push the car over into the parking lot of the shopping center that houses Aaron’s and Kimbrell’s Furniture.
Thirty minutes later, Pelmear and Clawson were still sitting in the car.
“There’s no damage to the car, I don’t think,” Pelmear said. “We’re just trying to catch our breath.”
• • •
The heavy rains that swept across Rowan County on Friday evening quickly tapered off.
“After the (thunderstorm) warning was issued, it began to decrease in strength and just become a really big rain maker right over the city of Salisbury and areas to the north,” meteorologist Doug Outlaw said.
Outlaw said an estimate 21/2 inches of precipitation, including some quarter-sized hail, fell over the area in about an hour Friday.
The rain will bring in cooler temperatures today with a high of 84 degrees, down from 93 degrees Friday, Outlaw said.
But that doesn’t mean it will be dry.
“A couple of hours in the middle of the area, there is close to a 60 percent chance of showers and storm,” Outlaw said. “The early part of the day, only expect it to have a 30 to 40 percent chance, but it will increase throughout the day.”
• • •
CHARLOTTE (AP) — A Charlotte mall was evacuated Friday when a thunderstorm that produced heavy rain caused the ceiling to collapse, officials said.
The ceiling at SouthPark collapsed around 5 p.m., said Charlotte Fire Department Capt. Rob Brisley. He said by the time firefighters were dispatched to the mall, an evacuation was already under way.
Brisley said firefighters also pulled the alarm systems in the mall to help with the evacuation, which he described as orderly.
No injuries were reported.
Brisley said firefighters were also focusing on being sure the building was safe and that the water damage could be addressed by mall workers.
Mall personnel couldn’t be reached for additional comment Friday afternoon.
Also, Brisley said, firefighters rescued a motorist in south Charlotte who was trapped by rising waters from the rain.
It’s estimated that up to 3 inches of rain fell on south Charlotte in approximately 45 minutes, said Rodney Hinson, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Greer, S.C.
Hinson said a cluster of thunderstorms spawned by an upper-level disturbance moved northeast across the city beginning around 4:15 p.m. He said the same storm weakened by the time it reached Cabarrus County.
Hinson said more rain was likely to pass over Charlotte later Friday night.
• • •
Staff reporter Sarah Campbell contributed to this report.

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