Local News

Hurricane Danny Remnants Bring Heavy Rains to...

Posted July 24, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— Hurricane Danny's remnants spared rain-saturated Charlotte and lurched across North Carolina's heartland today, drenching Raleigh with 2 inches of rain and outlying areas with up to 8 inches.

As Charlotte authorities started packing up their emergency headquarters this morning, officials across north-central North Carolina were monitoring the slow-moving system as it dumped up to 2 inches of rain an hour.

The storm hit the Raleigh-Durham area during the morning rush hour, flooding some low-lying intersections. No injuries were reported. In neighboring Johnston County, high winds blew down trees near Benson, one of them damaging a residence, said Kim Robertson, the county's mitigation recovery coordinator.

The National Weather Service issued flash flood warnings for north-central North Carolina as the storm pushed on a northeasterly track through the area. A tornado watch was posted for northeastern North Carolina until this afternoon.

The storm brushed past Charlotte Wednesday night, and emergency management officials there breathed a sigh of relief. Earlier Wednesday, another storm system spawned by Danny's remnants dumped a record 6.55 inches on Charlotte.

``Everything is calming down we think,'' Bart Massey, emergency management coordinator for Mecklenburg County, said today. ``We think the weather is going to give us a break. We're looking to start closing down here in the not too distant future.''

More than 6 inches of rain fell in Charlotte Wednesday, causing a motorist's death and the collapse of a railroad bridge over Little Sugar Creek. The lead locomotive of a 90-car CSX coal train plunged into the creek after the three-person crew evacuated. Two other cars derailed.

A 5-year-old girl identified in broadcast reports as Ariel Linton reportedly was swept away in a swollen creek and remained missing today. Four companions were found safe.

``She tried to grab her sister's leg ...her sister tried to grab her, but (the water) was too strong and it took her down,'' said William Hatchcock, a friend of Ariel's family.

About 2,000 people were evacuated in Mecklenburg County, and more than 60 people stayed Wednesday night at shelters set up at two Charlotte schools.

The 6.55 inches that officially fell by 11 p.m. Wednesday was a Charlotte record for a 24-hour period. The previous record, 5.91 inches, was set in July 1944. Parts of Charlotte got as much as 8 to 9 inches.

Barbara White Freeman, 59, of Gastonia died Wednesday after being trapped by floodwaters after her car flipped over while driving down a downtown Charlotte street, emergency officials said.

A Charlotte sewer plant also was flooded by Irwin Creek, and officials estimated 17 million gallons of wastewater mixed with the rising waters.

In Moore County, a motorist had to swim out of his car Wednesday when floodwaters caught him in a low-lying spot, said George Gullickson of the county emergency management office.

``He had to roll down his window and swim to a bank. When he got to the bank, his car was completely submerged,'' he said.

In the mountains, a section of an Ashe County state road will be closed for a week due to the flash flooding, officials said.

The bad weather closed Paramount's Carowinds south of Charlotte along the North Carolina-South Carolina border late Wednesday for the first time during the park's season since Hurricane Hugo in 1989.

By PAUL NOWELL,Associated Press Writer Copyright ©1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or distributed.