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Eastern North Carolina Keeps Eye Out For High Water

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HOPE MILLS, N.C. — People in the eastern two-thirds of North Carolina kept a wary eye on rivers and streams Monday as high water from weekend storms resulted in flood watches across the region.

More thunderstorms were expected to pound eastern counties Monday night with as much as 6 inches of rain, the National Weather Service said. Flood watches were posted overnight for 15 counties including Beaufort, Lenoir, Washington and Pamlico.

Most of the watch area received up to 3 inches of rain over the past few days. Rain fell on the region at rates of up to 2 1/2 inches an hour early Monday.

Some localized flooding was reported, and more was expected along low-lying areas, creeks and streams in the coastal plain and southern Piedmont, according to the weather service.

Parts of Guilford, Alamance, Orange, Sampson, Duplin and Franklin counties saw more than 4 inches of rain between Sunday and Monday morning, the National Weather Service said.

Fayetteville received 3.5 inches of rain in the 24 hours that ended Monday morning.

"They had a lot of rain preceding today by Fayetteville and Clinton that simply cannot take any more rain," said NWS meteorologist Mike Moneypenny in Raleigh.

The weather service issued a flash flood warning for Cumberland County from Monday afternoon until late evening, as thunderstorms were expected to dump 2 inches of rain an hour on already-saturated ground.

Rainfall around the state was expected to taper off early Tuesday.

"Tomorrow looks good," Moneypenny said.

Weekend storms damaged sewer operations, churches, small businesses and 30 to 35 homes in Mebane, said fire chief Bob Louis.

"We received significant damage to our wastewater treatment plant," he said. "They are not running at full capacity."

The city was still assessing the damage Monday.

Emergency workers in Mebane rescued people from three submerged vehicles Sunday night, Louis said. Flood waters had largely receded by early Monday, he said.

Water also receded enough to allow Interstate 40 in Duplin County to reopen. A nine-mile stretch of the interstate was closed in both directions Sunday night, but was reopened around 6 a.m. Monday, Transportation Department spokeswoman Sherri Creech Johnson said.

A tornado packing winds of up to 75 mph touched down late Saturday in Mount Holly, damaging five houses and numerous trees, said Renee Hoffman with the state Division of Emergency Management.

Duke Power Co. said about 3,000 customers in North Carolina and South Carolina lost power because of the weekend storms, but spokesman Tom Williams said all were expected to have their electricity restored by Monday afternoon.

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