Local News

Sunday Rain Causes Problems In Triangle

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Though Hurricane Charley had come and gone, rain continued Sunday in the Triangle area.

The wet weather, coming on the heels of rains and flooding caused by consecutive storms Bonnie and Charley, caused plenty of headaches Sunday.

In Raleigh, the soaked ground could not hold a tree in place, and a small gust of wind sent the tree crashing into the dining room of a house off Dixie Trail. No one was in the room at the time.

The rain also made driving tricky on Raleigh's Beltline. The Raleigh Police Department worked at least eight accidents on the Beltline Sunday afternoon.

According to police, the drivers hydroplaned, causing them to lose control of their vehicles.

Heavy rains also caused problems in Johnston County, where creeks in Clayton rose quickly.

A creek off Highway 42 spilled over the banks in a nearby subdivision, flooding some backyards of nearby homes.

The rain also caused the Neuse River to rise to its banks. Officials worried the Neuse could reach flood stage.

Officials said the Neuse held steady at 8.5 feet Sunday in Clayton -- just shy of the flood stage of 9.0 feet. In Smithfield, where the flood stage is 15 feet, the river crested at 13.68 feet.

The Tar River, meanwhile, was down to 7.3 feet with a flood stage of 19 feet.

Crabtree Creek never reached flood level and did not rise much above seven feet.

In Wilson, investigators said weather was partly to blame for a chain-reaction accident on Highway 264. Troopers said the driver of a car hydroplaned on 264 near Interstate 95 and crashed into a guardrail.

Troopers said the driver of another car then hydroplaned and slammed into the first car. At least two people driving by stopped to help.

A man was trying to direct driving around the accident when, according to troopers, a minivan hit him.

"When (the minivan driver) came over the hill, he started skidding," witness Clemustine Best said. "And when he skid, he hydroplaned over, and when the guy was trying to get out of the way to get over the guardrail, the van contacted him and threw him 15 feet."

The man and drivers of the first two cars all went to the hospital. Their injuries did not appear to be life-threatening.

In Durham, the wet weather proved to be too much for the driver of a Land Rover. The accident happened in the westbound lane of I-40, just past the Durham Freeway.

According to Durham police, the driver apparently lost control, ran off the road and hit a tree. The collision ignited a small fire.

The driver was pulled safely from the vehicle, unharmed.

As Sunday's rain fell, state officials began to get an idea of the scope of the damage Charley inflicted on the state.

The worst of the storm was confined to the southern beaches, where Charley came ashore. In New Hanover and Brunswick Counties, the damage was more extensive than from Hurricane Isabel.

Caswell Beach was hardest hit, with nearly 300 homes damaged. Two-hundred-and-twenty-seven buildings in Sunset Beach needed repairs.

About 100 homes each in Oak Island and Ocean Isle also were damaged.

Two school systems announced that they would

delay the start of school

Monday. Edgecombe County will be on a one-hour delay, Hertford County on a two-hour delay.

Emergency management workers briefed Gov. Mike Easley on the situation Sunday.

"North Carolina appeared to have escaped major damage," Easley said. "But those that did get hit got walloped pretty good."

Assessors still were trying to put a dollar figure on the damage Sunday night. If the total exceeds $8.5 million, federal money kicks in.

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