With soaking rains expected, McCrory warns NC residents about possible flooding

Posted September 30, 2015 5:27 a.m. EDT
Updated September 30, 2015 6:28 p.m. EDT

— With multiple inches of rain expected in the next several days across parts of central and eastern North Carolina, Gov. Pat McCrory on Wednesday warned North Carolina residents to be prepared for potential flooding.

The National Weather Service issued flash flood watches for several counties, including Wake, Durham, Orange and Cumberland, from 8 p.m. Thursday through 8 p.m. Saturday.

"We’ve had a fair amount of rain during the past week and the ground is saturated in many places,” McCrory said in a statement. “The combination of wind gusts from various weather systems and any additional rain from Joaquin could lead to downed trees and power outages in many areas, not just the coast."

A cold front is expected to arrive in the area on Wednesday evening and early Thursday, where it will interact with an area of low pressure rising northward from the Gulf of Mexico. The front will stall over the Carolinas through the weekend, likely generating several inches of rain.

WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said outdoor activities through the weekend, including the slate of high school football games, could be canceled or rescheduled. Temperatures will be much cooler behind the cold front. Highs to close the work week will be in the 60s.

State Public Safety Secretary Frank Perry said state officials are coordinating with local officials to ensure they have what they need in the next few days. Perry said residents should expect flooding in poor-draining areas and low-lying spots.

“Regardless of the impact of Hurricane Joaquin, North Carolina has the potential for life-threatening flooding within the next week. We don’t know yet how much or how widespread the flooding will be, but we know there will be flooding," State Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry said in a statement.

Officials suggested the following:

  • Be sure your emergency supplies kit has enough bottled water and non-perishable food to sustain each family member for three to seven days. Include a weather radio, flashlight, extra batteries, toiletries, change of clothes, blankets or sleeping bag, rain gear and appropriate footwear. Also include copies of important documents, such as birth certificates and insurance policies.
  • Plan for your pets. Gather supplies for your pet and put them in an easily-accessible container.
  • Prepare your home. Clean out gutters and clear property of debris that could damage buildings in strong winds. Supplies, such as lumber and shutters, should be purchased now, and window casings pre-drilled.
  • Determine if you are in a flood plain or flood-prone area.
  • Know evacuation routes for your area. Listen to local officials and evacuate as instructed.
  • Stay tuned to local news for the latest advisories from the National Weather Service and National Hurricane Center (NHC), as well as state and local emergency management officials.

Officials from Wake, Orange and Johnston Counties also reminded residents to avoid walking or driving through flood waters, even if they may look shallow.