Hurricane Florence: The Aftermath
Published 12:10 am Tuesday, September 18, 2018
By Shavonne Walker
In parts of Rowan County, Hurricane Florence dumped over 11 inches of water or more, leading to flooding in many neighborhoods, evacuations and downed trees. Area community leaders say they responded as best they could and continue to clean up in the aftermath.
One of the first areas Salisbury police and fire responded to was Salisbury Mobile Home Park on Bringle Ferry Road, said Police Capt. Melonie Thompson. The site, which has flooded in the past, had some rising waters in areas. When emergency responders arrived, most of the residents had already moved their vehicles to “higher ground” in a nearby median and across the street.
Thompson said many of them planned on staying.
She recalled the water level was so high that the first few mobile homes were surrounded by water. City HR Director Ruth Kennerly acted as an interpreter since the majority of residents in the mobile home park are Spanish speakers.
Emergency officials distributed flyers about storm response and other pertinent information.
Police officers also responded to the Town and Country Mobile Home Park off U.S. 150 where there was high rising water. When officers arrived, a neighbor had just rescued a dog chained outside prior to the flooding.
Thompson said the water rose at Brookview Apartments and in the 1000 block of East Lafayette Street.
For some apartments at Brookview, the water level was at the back door, she said.
There were two older residents taken to the shelter established at the Hurley Family YMCA. Those who were nonambulatory were boarded onto a Salisbury City bus and taken to the shelter.
One police officer found a homeless man who was living in a tent somewhere in a flooded area near Walmart. The officer was able to give the man a ride to the Red Cross and then to the YMCA.
Shelter organizers confirmed four people went to the shelter on Sunday and all have since returned home. The shelter was closed on Monday.
One odd incident that drew police response was a small group swimming in the flood waters near Bojangles at East Innes Street.
She said the people were adults who were getting out of the water by the time police made their way towards them. She said they’d received some phone calls about people swimming in the water.
Thompson said officers told them to get out of the water.
“We are back to normal staffing,” she said of Monday.
Salisbury Fire Department Battalion Chief Jay Baker said there was a joint operations center at Station #1 with the Salisbury Police Department.
Throughout the weekend, city personnel stayed in constant contact with those in the county operations center to monitor conditions.
Baker said they were pretty busy starting around 6:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., including response to a power outage on East Innes Street and evacuations due to flooding.
“We are in the recovery mode a little bit. We’ve re-closed Old Mocksville Road near Grants Creek because the water was coming back up a little bit,” he said.
Baker said there was good teamwork between the police, fire and city leaders who responded to incidents in the city.
“We are still assessing everything this morning. It seems we fared better than most. A lot of our preparations we had taken prior to Florence, especially cleaning out the drainage pipes on 17th Street and other areas prone to flooding really helped,” said Land Management Director Troy Powell.
He said there was a sinkhole on South Yadkin Avenue between 3rd and 4th streets.
Powell said there is a 2-foot by 2-foot hole in the asphalt that extends 5-feet deep and is 4-feet to 5-feet in diameter.
“We can see and hear running water spewing from a water line. Public Works Director Joel Taylor said he notified Salisbury-Rowan Utilities and they were aware of a water line break in that area and had planned to repair it during the road construction of the 4th Street Project. The road has just began collapsing prior to the repairs,” Powell said.
The town of Spencer also reported a few trees down and a power line that was burned apart on South Yadkin Avenue at 4th Street which caused a 3-hour power outage for Spencer and East Spencer around 3:50 p.m. Sunday.
Crews had to shut down the power station in East Spencer to make the repair, according to Duke Energy.
Powell said the dam appears to have held and water was flowing from the auxiliary spillway.
On Monday evening, Powell checked the pond from the park side where he helped state engineers survey the head cut on Thursday prior to the storm. It will be surveyed again to help estimate how much longer the dam would hold.
“We had power outages Friday and Sunday afternoon. There’s a little water here now, but no flooding. We were prepared. It didn’t get as bad as we thought,” said East Spencer Town Administrator F.E. Isenhour.
He commended both the East Spencer police and fire department on their great job responding to incidents as they arose.
On Monday, Isenhour said, they were checking roads and cleaning tree limbs and twigs early. He added that they would also check potholes that will need to be filled.
Town Manager Phil Conrad said overall they came through the storm pretty well despite a downed tree across U.S. 52 late Sunday, which has since been removed and some flooding on Main Street.
Public Works Manager Jason Hord said they’d been working since Thursday. He added there were some secondary roads that flooded as well.
“We spent a portion of last week unclogging drains and did that during the storm,” Hord said.
Hord said the staff went back to assess the roads and will do the same throughout the week.
“We appreciate the cooperative partnership with the City of Salisbury, Rockwell and Faith. It was a great team effort,” Conrad said.
Hord said there was a quite a bit of a wash out at Centennial Park and Lake Park and staff are in the process of working there. In the meantime, they’ve temporarily closed the parks and will re-open on Thursday.
Conrad said he’s appreciative of an active town board, all of whom participated in a number of conference calls. They also benefitted from the expertise of an alderman who is a former maintenance supervisor.
The information hotline established for the hurricane will be not be staffed beyond Monday, but residents with questions related to the storm or local impact can continue to call 704-216-8900, option 7 and leave a message, according to County Emergency Services officials.
Rowan Forecaster Steve Monday said preliminary rainfall accumulation around the county ranges from about four inches in the northwest corner of the county near Cleveland to more than 11 inches on the eastern side of the county in areas like Gold Hill, Rockwell and Granite Quarry.
“The worst of the rainfall is over, but look for possible flooding later in the week,” Monday said.
He said rain will be coming from the mountains, but it’s not expected to be significant. More specific totals are expected to be released by the National Weather Service within the next few days.
Lake Corriher is at a level 2, but is stable, said Landis Town Manager Reed Linn.
Landis Lake is at a level 2 after the levee was damaged during the storm. Officials are talking with state engineers about how to go about repairs.
Linn said the dam is fine and intact.
The town began receding lake levels on Sept. 10 and lowered them by two feet. Landis got 8.5 inches of rain over the weekend.
Linn said the lakes are receding and are in a small watershed area, so they will not flood as water begins to drain.
“We were very fortunate as were most of the county,” said China Grove Town Manager Ken Deal.
Deal said there were just a few minor things, but they were prepared to take necessary measures.
The main issue was with Corriher Lake.
“If that dam had been breeched we would have had to evacuate all the residents on Grants Creek. Fortunately, it stopped raining and the water went down before anything happened,” Deal said.
There a few trees down and some minor flooding.
The town personnel is still assessing any damage.
A few streets were closed due to downed trees and flooding: Trinity Church near Kannapolis Parkway; Dogwood Boulevard at the Creek; Chipola; and Fairview at East First Street.
All roadways were reopened by mid-late morning, officials said.
The trash/recycling is on a one-day delay (Friday routes will be picked up Saturday). Town officials said in order for them to collect tree limbs and other small debris, it must be stacked in piles no larger than 4-foot by 12-foot by 4-foot.
Post reporters Andie Foley, Liz Moomey and Rebecca Rider contributed to this story.