STATE OF EMERGENCY: McDowell County hit hard from Tuesday rain

STATE OF EMERGENCY: McDowell County hit hard from Tuesday rain

Roy Cooper says the state is sending safety engineers to check on several dams in the North Carolina mountains after heavy rains from the fringes of what was Subtropical Storm Alberto.

Residents in Old Fort, Pleasant Gardens and areas of Marion were also evacuated for flooding and landslides as rivers and creeks breeched their banks and threatened homes and lives.

Catawba County Emergency Management Coordinator Karyn Yaussy warned flooded bridges are unsafe for drivers. Officials closed Interstate 40 for a few hours Tuesday night after a mudslide by the Buncombe/McDowell County line.

Evacuations have been ordered in McDowell County where landslides have comprised the integrity of the Lake Tahoma dam. A shelter has been opened at Old Fort Baptist Church, which is on East Main Street. McDowell County Schools were closed Wednesday following the flooding, and had a delayed opening Thursday. The men were able to climb from the overturned truck and stand on its side in the Catawba River until they were rescued, the governor said. Evacuations ongoing south of the dam.

At 10:30 a.m., the mandatory evacuations were lifted, and officials deemed the dam safe. Some good news from reporters here in Asheville is that we've actually seen some of the water receding, but there's still rain the forecast.

The emergency at Lake Tahoma has been canceled.

During a press conference on Wednesday, Cooper urged residents of North Carolina to continue to take conditions seriously and keep a close eye on the forecast. "They are already at full pond and that much more rainfall entering the reservoir there could cause significant risky flooding".

She said emergency personnel were notifying people who are camping around Lake James, and going door to door warning those about the potential situation. "We appreciate the public's understanding during this storm".

NC Emergency Management said McDowell County has experienced the most significant flooding since 2004 during Hurricane Frances.

Forecasters warn storms could bring more flooding Wednesday, but say the heavy rains will be isolated and not widespread.

"Following more than six inches of rain overnight in many areas of Western North Carolina, numerous residents are without power this morning in the Lake Lure area, as many trees are down and roads blocked", Lake Lure said in a Facebook post. A voluntary evacuation for Chimney Rock was also requested.

Alberto weakened to a subtropical depression Monday, but millions of people in parts of Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia and Kentucky were still under flash flood watches for much of Tuesday.

In North Carolina, a television news anchor and a photojournalist were killed Monday while covering the weather, when a tree became uprooted from rain-soaked ground and toppled onto their SUV, authorities said.

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