Local News

Flooding Closes Down Kerr Lake; Easley Puts State On Alert

Posted July 2, 2003

— Gov. Mike Easley put state agencies on alert Tuesday and called for North Carolinians to prepare for possible flash flooding in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Bill.

Meanwhile, one place already dealing with flooding is

Kerr Lake

. Record rainfall has forced Vance County officials to postpone the July Fourth celebration until August.

With water rising 12 feet above normal, Kerr Lake's boat ramps were flooded Tuesday, and all 500 campsites around the lake were under water.

Kerr Lake is used to hosting 10,000 people for the Independence Day celebration. But all will be quiet this weekend after organizers rescheduled the celebration for Aug. 30.

"You plan for a year," said Nancy Wilson, of the Vance County Tourism Department. "You make reservations to hold it here at the park. You contract your bands and your fireworks company, and you work on getting the publicity for the event, and it's all gone.

"We lost it all. It's very frustrating."

The storm system that was Tropical Storm Bill was expected to bring significant rainfall and the threat of severe weather to North Carolina Tuesday night and Wednesday, with the worst potential for flooding in the western part of the state.

According to weather models, anywhere from five to eight inches of rain could fall in the mountains by 8 a.m. Wednesday.

"The greatest threat will be for flash flooding in the small creeks and gorges in the mountains and in low-lying areas elsewhere," Easley said. "People should pay close attention to news broadcasts about the weather in their area and take immediate action if flood warnings are issued.

"People living in low-lying or flood-prone areas should take extra precautions during this storm. In the event of flooding, motorists should stay off the roadways."

The State Emergency Response Team was briefed Tuesday, and state agencies were prepared to respond should any resources be needed to assist local emergency teams.

The North Carolina State Highway Patrol and the Department of Transportation will watch for flooded roads and bridges.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources' Dam Safety Office will monitor dams.

The Department for Wildlife Resources, the State Parks Department and the N.C. Forestry Service have been alerted to possible flooding in campgrounds where people may be spending the July 4th holiday week.

The Department of Health and Human Services also was monitoring the situation and working with local offices in preparation for opening any necessary shelters.

The National Weather Service issued a flood watch for all areas of the state west of Interstate 95.

Flood warnings were being issued in some of the westernmost counties, and a river flood warning was issued for some areas along the French Broad River.

The Weather Service's forecast indicated that the heaviest rainfall will occur in Cherokee, Swain, Macon and Haywood counties.

The worst downpours are predicted to happen after midnight and taper off through Wednesday, with rainfall ending by Thursday.

The storm system was moving quickly and was not expected to linger over the state.


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