Flash flood watches were issued for Caldwell County on Thursday, and heavy rain and runoff caused isolated flooding in low-lying areas throughout the county.
According to the National Weather Service, heavy rains along the eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains and moisture-laden winds from the east hit the area.
The weather service said that up to 1 1/2 inches of rain fell early Thursday in Caldwell County, and isolated areas could receive an additional one to two inches of rainfall, resulting in flooding problems after precipitation let up in the afternoon.
The weather service said that widespread showers with a few embedded thunderstorms will continue to develop and venture north across the mountains and foothills of North Carolina.
According to the Director of Caldwell County Emergency Services Tommy Courtner, the combination of local rainfall and runoff from the Boone and Linville Falls areas resulted in rising water levels that mainly impacted the Collettsville area.
The main source of the problem was the runoff and the local rainfall. Water levels in some creeks experienced an increase of a foot in as little as an hour.
Roads such as Wilson Creek Road, Old John’s River Road and Brown Mountain Beach Road were completely covered by standing water in some areas.
According to Chad Price of Collettsville Fire and Rescue, the Department of Transportation placed warning signs at those locations because the roads were impassable.
Price also said that many students left school early at Collettsville Elementary. He said that it was not an official early dismissal made by the school. Parents who picked up their children were simply deciding to take precautionary measures.
Courtner said that once the rain stopped, the water levels were able to slightly taper off.
Rainfall and runoff also washed away more of the shoulder of Buffalo Cove Road. The shoulder is located about 400 feet above the convenience site. The erosion increased the size of a hole that is about three feet away from the pavement and runs about 75 feet downhill.
Courtner said that the main concerns were for tourists in the area. He said that locals have dealt with this before and know what to expect whereas the tourists may not know the potential problems that may lie ahead. Rescue crews were dispatched to warn and help tourists evacuate some areas.
Courtner said that rescuers will remain on call until flood threats have passed.
He is also concerned about the potential threats that are posed by Hurricane Frances. Courtner said that the rain and wind that Frances may bring to Caldwell County next week may be a problem with such a short amount of recovery time from Thursday’s flooding.
Water rescue teams remained on call throughout the entire night, and Courtner said that he is very pleased with the preparedness of all the local fire departments and rescue squads. He said that Caldwell County will be ready for Frances, but for now Caldwell County Emergency Services will monitor all current flooding issues as well as those that may arise as a result of Frances.