RALEIGH, N.C. — Tropical Storm Hanna made landfall near the border of North and South Carolina early Saturday, and its bands of heavy rain created flooding throughout eastern and central North Carolina.
After coming ashore near Sunset Beach at 3:20 a.m., the center of circulation moved north quickly just east of the Interstate 95 corridor. Shortly before 11 a.m., the storm's center had crossed into Virginia, near Emporia.
By the time it reached the coast, the storm's top sustained winds had dropped to about 60 mph from near 70 mph while the storm was over water.
The heaviest rain fell west of the storm’s path, WRAL Meteorologist Greg Fishel said.
Although the ground will be soggy, the skies cleared for evening events Saturday, including Raleigh Wide Open and a Brooks & Dunn concert at the Alltel Pavilion.
Flood warnings were issued for some counties. The National Weather Service cautioned that Crabtree Creek could continue to rise past flood stage into Saturday evening.
"As the storm waters run off the next couple of days, the rivers and streams will continue to rise and peak. Please stay off flooded roads," Gov. Mike Easley said in a statement Saturday afternoon. "Be careful. We are more than halfway through this storm; let's finish the job."
Flood waters reach apartments, roads
Rains fueled the quick rise of creeks and rivers across the state.
In a news conference Saturday afternoon, Gov. Mike Easley warned that emergency management officials are expecting at least two major areas of flooding in the next several days.
The Little River, he said, is expected to crest at 28 feet Saturday night, affecting the area around East Manchester Road in Cumberland County. The Neuse River in Smithfield is expected to crest at 2 a.m. Monday.
"Although the storm is over, the flooding event is just beginning," Easley said, urging residents to stay put to stay safe.
A foot of water from Walnut Creek flowed over Rose Lane in southeast Raleigh, prompting officials to ask residents to evacuate from 40 homes. Officials said the homes were not in danger, but they were concerned the flood waters would trap the residents in on the dead-end street.
Cumberland County sheriff's deputies conducted a voluntary evacuation of 80 homes in Parkway Mobile Home Park, off Camden Road in Hope Mills. Rising flood waters had threatened to cut off access to the park but were receding by 12:30 p.m., deputies said.
Festival Park remained under water Saturday evening. Fayetteville officials warned people to avoid the area.
Flooded was receding along South Estes Drive in Chapel Hill, where Bolin Creek overspilled its banks and flooded three apartment complexes. Police officers and firefighters knocked on doors in the Brookwood Condos and Ridgefield and Camelot Village apartments and made more than 4,000 calls, advising residents to evacuate.
The Red Cross opened an emergency shelter for displaced residents at Smith Middle School, but no evacuees showed up there.
In Fayetteville, Cross Creek was overflowing at Mason Street and Ray Avenue and into Festival and Linear parks. Water covered the top of park benches, and up to 8 inches flowed over the intersection. The flood waters started to recede slowly by late afternoon.
Ankle-deep lake water seeped into the Aberdeen Rescue Squad building on Lakeshore Drive, Moore County dispatch officials said. Crews managed to get out the ambulance and equipment before they could be damaged.
Law enforcement said that the parking lot at Raeford Green Apartments in Hoke County had flooded.
Floodwaters covered the Durham Academy's athletic fields at Pickett and Ridge roads.
Six to 8 inches of water covered Weaver Dairy Road at Kingsmill Apartments in Chapel Hill.
By 6 p.m., Raleigh had gotten 5.19 inches of rain; Chapel Hill, 4.96 inches of rain; Fayetteville, 4.61 inches; Oxford, 4.23 inches; Goldsboro, 3.34; Rocky Mount 2.52; and Roanoke Rapids, 1.81.
Maxton led the way with 5.72 inches, but some reports held that Southern Pines and areas in Moore, Lee, Hoke and southern Wake counties had received up to 7 inches.
Crabtree Creek rose over 12 feet near U.S. Highway 70 in Raleigh. Bobby Medlin, manager of Crabtree Valley Mall, said that workers put up floodgates and closed off the lower level of the parking deck, but the mall was open as normal.
Cumberland County officials were also keeping a close eye on the Cape Fear Valley River, which has risen 4 feet since midnight.
Earlier, police rescued a driver from a stalled car in high water at Hillsborough Street and Chapel Hill Road. Another car spun out along Avent Ferry.
An Alamance County deputy ended up in a ditch when his patrol car hydroplaned on Highway 87 South, south of Kingston Court.
Winds pick up, trees go down
Early Saturday, winds started to pick up in central North Carolina. Gusts were reported between 20 and 25 mph in the capital city around 6 a.m. Fayetteville had sustained winds of 26 mph and gusts up to 37 mph.
"This is probably going to be our secondary issue behind flooding," WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said.
Nancy Wilson said she and her two young children were sitting in the kitchen when limbs from a falling tree pierced the roof of their home in Rocky Mount.
"It shook the trailer, and then bam," Wilson said.
Other trees caught the fallen one, preventing the main trunk from hitting the home. "They saved our lives," Wilson said.
Injuries were reported when a tree fell onto a trailer at Point Pleasant Road, off Bragg Boulevard, in Fayetteville.
An uprooted tree crashed onto a pickup truck traveling on Tarboro Street in Wilson. The driver suffered lacerations to his face.
A large, fallen tree completely blocked the 1200 block of Hillsborough Road in Chapel Hill, Orange County officials said.
In Raleigh, a tree landed on a lawn but smashed the rear of a car parked in the driveway off Woodburn Road, near Cameron Village. The tree also crashed through a power line, knocking out service to the area. Roads stayed open, but traffic lights were out at Woodburn and Smallwood roads.
Police said a second tree came down on an apartment building off Navaho Road, near Interstate 440 and Wake Forest Road. No injuries were reported, and police and firefighters were clearing up the scene.
A tree fell on a house at Summerfield Crossing in Chapel Hill but did not injury anyone.
Cary reported five downed trees in public right-of-ways.
Johnston County dispatch said that a tree had fallen on a house at 1695 N.C. Highway 222 West in Kenly. No one was injured.
Chatham County officials reported a tree on a vehicle at 5650 Highway 15 North and one on a home at 506 E. Second St. in Siler City.
Harnett County sheriff's deputies were diverting traffic off N.C. Highway 24, where a large oak tree had landed, near Cameron Hill Road in Cameron. Officials said trees were also down on Sheriff Johnson Road in Buies Creek and on Bethel Baptist Road, near N.C. Highway 210 in Anderson Creek.
Lee County officials said that four trees had fallen on roadways but were cleared within an hour and a half. Another tree fell on a house, breaking inside the building. No injuries were reported.
A tree reportedly fell on a house at 5825 Pettigrew Drive in Fayetteville.
In Moore County, hundreds of people were trapped in a neighborhood Saturday evening when a huge sinkhole washed out part of Autumn Drive off of Highway 690 in Vass. Residents in the Riverbend Community said the nearly 10 foot gap seemed to be growing larger.
N.C. Highway 12 between the Rodanthe and Oregon inlet, along the Pea Island National Refuge remains closed until water recedes.
Several secondary roads were closed due to high water during the peak of the flooding Saturday morning.
Flood waters washed away asphalt from Niagra Carthage Road at Camp Easter Road. Niagra Carthage will be closed for two weeks for repairs.
Hanna also disturbed other forms of transportation: Airlines canceled a few dozen flights at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, and Amtrak trains that normally travel through the Tar Heel state idled in New York, Virginia and Florida.
Flooding prompted Cary officials to close portions of four greenways: White Oak, Oxford Hunt, Black Creek and Southbridge.
"Hanna was a great opportunity for the town to test our emergency preparedness, and I'm happy to say that we got an 'A,'" Durham Deputy Fire Chief Jay Poole said.
Power outages spread around Hanna
At the height of the storm, nearly 60,000 homes and businesses were without power, mostly in coastal and coastal North Carolina.
Progress Energy officials said 400 workers were getting out to assess damage when conditions were safe and would be coming behind the storm to restore power.
"Our crews are in the field, making good progress on the outages already reported," said Hershell McCarty, the company's storm coordinator for the Carolinas. "We know any outage is unwelcome for our customers, and we're working to restore service as quickly and safely as possible."
Scott Sutton, with Progress Energy, said the company had monitored Hanna since it was a tropical depression, placed crews on standby and kept them home, instead of assisting relief efforts along the Gulf after Hurricane Gustav.
"We wanted our resources here in North Carolina to be fresh and ready," Sutton said.
More than 10,700 Progress Energy customers were without power as of 4 p.m. Duke Energy reported 728 outages Saturday night.
An emergency, bilingual hotline (1-888-835-9966 or TTY 1-877-877-1765) began 24-hour operations at 10 a.m. Friday. The hot line will provide weather updates, shelter locations, highway closings and, later, act as a referral service for those in need of help.