RALEIGH, N.C. — High water forced the closure of numerous roads across the region Wednesday morning, and winds from a coastal storm brought down power lines and left hundreds of customers in the dark.
Duke Energy said almost 19,000 customers were without power in North and South Carolina, including about 13,500 in Durham and Orange counties. Meanwhile, Progress Energy reported about 12,000 customers without power, most of which were in the Triangle.
Limited Flooding At Crabtree Creek For Now
The level of Crabtree Creek was rising Wednesday morning, but no flooding had been reported at Crabtree Valley Mall. Still, mall managers blocked off lower levels of Crabtree Valley's parking garage, which are prone to flooding, and were directing people to park in the upper levels of the deck.
Crabtree Creek was about 15 feet out of its banks near Wake Forest Road Wednesday, cascading over the dams at Lake Wheeler and Yates Mill Pond. The Rec Zone skating rink on Hodges Road and the Grove Park Apartments on Noble Road both flooded.
The flood waters prompted Thompson Cadillac to move about 350 cars from its lot Wednesday morning.
"Better safe than sorry," car dealer Lex Depp said.
This was the third time this year that Crabtree Creek has flooded its banks. Despite the threat, last-minute shoppers at Crabtree Valley Mall were determined to finish their pre-Thanksgiving shopping.
"We were a little bit (concerned) with Crabtree Creek, but after driving around town, seeing that everything looked okay and the rain had stopped, we figured it was okay to come out," said shopper Todd Jensen.
Scattered Road Closures, Evacuations In Durham, Fayetteville
The 1500 block of East Pettigrew Street in Durham was flooded early Wednesday, and police officers went door-to-door to check on residents. Two people were evacuated from a flooded home, and officers said it would take a couple of days for the residents to return home due to a clogged drain nearby.
Part of Holloway Street near Roxboro Street in Durham was also shut down a few hours Thursday afternoon because of a utility pole that had blown over and was bent over the roadway. The street later reopened after repairs.
Also in Durham, flooding was reported at Erwin and Morreene roads, University Drive and West Forest Hills Boulevard, Hope Valley Road and N.C. Highway 54 and East Club Boulevard and Miriam Circle.
The Streets at Southpoint mall in south Durham closed Wednesday morning because of a power outage, but all stores reopened by 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, officials said.
In Fayetteville, Murchison Road at Cumberland Street and the Ray Avenue Bridge near Maiden Lane were temporarily closed after Cross Creek flooded into nearby Linear Park, police said.
A utility pole caught fire on Bragg Boulevard at Filter Plant Road Wednesday afternoon, police said. It's not clear if the fire was weather related, and the roadway has since been reopened. Police said that no major accidents have been reported in the area.
Flooding Closes Roads In Southeast Counties; Sampson County Dam Endangered
Most of the rain from the nor'easter has fallen to the south and the east of Raleigh. In Sampson County, schools closed at 10:45 a.m. and Interstate 40 shut down for a short while, after a swamp north of Warsaw flooded the roadway around mile-marker 360. The interstate was reopened later in the day.
Wayne County Emergency Management officials were monitoring a dam in the northern part of the county, where water was reported to be spilling over the sides. Emergency officials said that any danger to the dam had lessened by Wednesday evening.
On Wednesday morning, rain had pushed the water into its emergency spillway to keep the dam from breaking. The rain also pushed the pond into some neighbors' backyards.
Daniel Mahoney came home early from work Wednesday because of the quickly rising water. He said that he was planning to start sandbagging his home to keep it from flooding.
"We're a little concerned that it could start encroaching on the house," Mahoney said.
Neighbor Rosalynd Voss said the pond started rising after last week's storms and had just began to recede before this week's downpours.
"It's a nice thing for a our neighborhood to have (the dam) behind our house, but we're not reallywater front property until now," Voss said.
Officials blocked off a nearby road as a precaution, and officials also closed Lees Country Club Road in Wayne County because of flooding. However, flood waters receded late Wednesday and the roads were later reopened.
Bad Weather Creates Dangerous Situations Throughout Triangle
A tree smashed into the corner of a house on Carolina Avenue in Chapel Hill, sparking a fire on an downed power line, authorities said. No injuries were reported, but firefighters had to wait for power to be turned off so they could extinguish the flames, which scorched a nearby car.
High winds ripped down a giant treet sign on nearby Franklin Street, but officers planned to get it back into place shortly. While the rains churned up Booker Creek, the waterway running through Chapel Hill hasn't flooded its banks.
Officials reported no major weather-related injuries in both Orange and Durham counties late Wednesday afternoon.
A 70-year-old woman in a wheelchair was transported to WakeMed after a fire at 5501 Round Hill Lane in Raleigh trapped her inside, authorities said. Firefighters quickly brought the blaze under control, and authorities were trying to determine its cause.
Horace Bohlin was driving on Mid-Pines Road, off Tryon Road, early Wednesday when the combination of wind and rain brought a tree down on the hood of his truck. He suffered minor injuries in the accident.
"I knew the tree was coming because I saw the shadow. I hit the brakes, and luckily, it got down below the hood," Bohlin said. "Otherwise, I guess it would have come through the windshield."
A tree also fell on two houses near the intersection of Lane and Heck streets east of downtown Raleigh overnight. No one was injured, authorities said.
Police redirected traffic for a short time Wednesday on Hillsborough Street near North Carolina State University's campus on Wednesday, after the weather caused part of a tree to fall on some power lines. Crews had to remove the limbs to repair the lines, but streets were reopened a short time later.
Several patients had to be relocated in an Elizabethtown rest home after officials reported standing water in 10 rooms.
Flood Warning, Wind Advisories In Effect Across Central North Carolina
As rains from a coastal storm system continued to fall Wednesday, forecasters expanded flood warnings from eastern North Carolina to include the Triangle. Urban and small-stream flood warnings have been issued for Wake and Durham counties, and a flood watch was still in effect late Wednesday evening for several counties in the eastern half of the state.
A wind advisory was until 7 p.m. Wednesday in several central North Carolina counties. The weather service said the combination of the coastal low-pressure system and an area of high pressure to the northwest would continue to produce blustery northeast winds over the area, with sustained winds of 20 to 30 mph and occasional gusts as high as 40 to 50 mph expected through Wednesday evening.
Periods of rain gradually cleared throughout central North Carolina late Wednesday. WRAL meteorologists said Thanksgiving Day is expected to be overcast but dry in the Triangle area as the nor'easter is expected to move northward.
Gov. Mike Easley asked swift-water rescue teams to be ready on the coast if needed, and ordered the National Guard to have high-clearance vehicles on standby.