Zeta-caused landslide creates 90-mile detour in Mitchell, McDowell counties

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 31, 2020

LENOIR (AP) — A landslide caused by Tropical Storm Zeta has blocked a North Carolina road, severing access between mountain counties and forcing motorists to take a 90-mile detour, officials said Friday.

McDowell County Emergency Management said the landslide occurred early Friday about a half-mile north of the U.S. 221 intersection with N.C. Highway 226. The landslide cut off access between Mitchell and McDowell counties, officials said.

Scott Killough, an assistant maintenance engineer with the N.C. Department of Transportation, said the department is sending equipment and working with the local utility company to get the road cleared.

“We estimate that there’s more than 100 dump-truck loads of material that we’ll have to haul away,” Killough said. “Our goal is to reopen the highway by Sunday morning.”

NCDOT established a 90-mile detour requiring northbound drivers take Interstate 40 West to I-240 West to I-26 West to U.S. 19E east to its intersection with N.C. 226 in Mitchell County.

Emergency services and McDowell County Sheriff’s Office personnel have staged on the other side of the landslide in case of an emergency, officials said.