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High water closes roads

A pickup drives through high water on Greenville Highway at Glassy Lane. A pickup drives through high water on Greenville Highway at Glassy Lane.

Flash flooding occurred on the Green River in southern Henderson County, Mud Creek is rising fast and law officers and NCDOT crews are closing roads across the county as the big rain event of 2015 doused the area.

Flash flooding was already occurring on Little River, Green River, Broad River, Hungry River and Mud CreekSaturday morning, the National Weather Service said. The agency warned motorists to avoid driving into areas where water covers the roadway. Only a few inches of rapidly flowing water can carry away a vehicle.

So far, no landslides or major property damage had been reported and the only injuries were minor ones in car crashes attributed to the wet conditions, officials said.

By Saturday afternoon sheriff’s deputies and the NCDOT had closed several roads because of high water in Fletcher and Mills River, including Jeffress Road, Hoopers Lane and Old Fanning Bridge Road. In Hendersonville, the Greenville Highway-White Street area was starting to flood. Authorities closed Patton Park and the Beverly Hanks Center because of flooding along Mud Creek.
“As it continues to rain there will be more road closures I’m sure,” said sheriff’s Maj. Frank Stout. “We’ve not had to rescue anybody out of the water yet and we appreciate people heeding our message to stay out of high water. We’ve had some motor vehicle collisions with minor injuries attributed to the weather.”
Rivers, creeks and streams aren’t expected to crest before noon Sunday and the high water mark may well occur later than that. The Mills River, which was running at under 35 cubic feet per second on Sept. 24, was running at 1,240 CFS on Saturday afternoon, according to U.S. Geological Survey.
“We’ve got three swift water rescue teams deployed right now,” Stout said. “We’ve got chainsaw crews, rescue, road deputies and fire. Truly Henderson County is blessed with the services we have.”

The sheriff's department reported shortly after 9 a.m. Saturday that trees had fallen across the roadway and taken down powerlines at 3963 Gerton Highway and Middle Fork Road in the Gerton-Bat Cave area. Overall, though, Duke Energy reported just 214 customers out of power at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

Up to seven inches of rain combined with high winds Saturday and Sunday could take down trees and cause more widespread power outages before the storm moves out on Monday, forecasters said.
“The rain forecast for Henderson County is from 6 to 7 inches for the event this weekend and it’s going to bring wind gusts in higher elevations around 30 to 35 mph and lower elevations 17 to about 20 mph,” said Doug Outlaw, a meteorologist with the Greer, S.C., office of the National Weather Service. “That of course will tend to push over a few trees, especially trees that are weak and were about ready to go over anyway.”
The rain was continuing throughout the day in Henderson County, heavy at times.
“During the past hour we have radar estimates of as much as about a third of an inch in the southern part of the county,” Outlaw said at 1 p.m. “It’s just piling up and accumulating. The ground is already saturated, it’s just more runoff.”
Wind speeds are expected to pick up on Sunday to 20-22 mph in lower elevations and 35 mph on mountaintops.
“The winds with this are the circulation around the upper level low situated over southwestern part of Georgia,”  Outlaw said. “It’s circulating around that counterclockwise and of course a lot of that moisture is coming off the hurricane or at least the atmosphere around the hurricane. The hurricane is not going to affect us” directly in terms of a Carolinas landfall.
The weather system formed about midweek.
“Now it’s not moving. It’s stationary and giving us a prolonged event,” he said. “Some computer models have it moving north into New England and the European model has it moving off towards the coast and onto Bermuda.”
The rain system should start to break up Monday morning, move off the give way to drier weather.

Hendersonville police, public works and other departments are prepared to assist the public during the weekend storm that is expected to cause flooding, downed trees and potentially widespread power outages. Mayor Barbara Volk issued a proclamation declaring a state of emergency starting at noon Friday and authorizing City Manager John Connet to expend funds as needed for emergency response. The city also issued advice on preparing for and dealing with the storm conditions and identified roads in the city prone to flooding.

Henderson County, Hendersonville and Laurel Park all declared states of emergency Friday afternoon as the storm approaches and the chance of flooding grew to a near certainty.

In case of flooding that could occur the city issued advice on precautions:

  • Avoid walking or driving through flood waters and remember that just 6 inches of moving water can knock you down, and 2 feet of water can sweep your vehicle away.
  • If there is a chance of flash flooding, move immediately to higher ground. Flash floods are the #1 cause of weather-related deaths in the US.
  • If floodwaters rise around your car but the water is not moving, abandon the car and move to higher ground. Do not leave the car and enter moving water.
  • Turn on your TV/radio. You will receive the latest weather updates and emergency instructions.
  • Know where to go. You may need to reach higher ground quickly and on foot.
  • Build or restock your emergency preparedness kit. Include a flashlight, batteries, cash, and first aid supplies.
  • Bring in outdoor furniture and move important indoor items to the highest possible floor. This will help protect them from flood damage.
  • Disconnect electrical appliances and do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water. You could be electrocuted.
  • If instructed, turn off your gas and electricity at the main switch or valve. This helps prevent fires and explosions.
  • Move immediately to higher ground or stay on high ground.
  • Evacuate if directed.
  • Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded and watch out for debris. Floodwaters often erode roads and walkways.
  • Do not attempt to drive through areas that are still flooded.
  • Avoid standing water as it may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.

In addition the City Public Works Department has identified a list of City streets that are prone to flooding:

  • Spartanburg Hwy. near Fresh Market
  • Greenville Hwy. near Fresh Market
  • White St. near Fresh Market
  • Joel Wright Dr. off Greenville Hwy
  • Copper Penny Dr. off Greenville Hwy
  • South Grove St. from Caswell St. to Hillview Ave.
  • Caswell St. from King St. to South Grove St.
  • Chadwick Avenue from South Grove St. to Spartanburg Hwy.
  • Meadowbrook Terrace from Asheville Hwy. to Arlington St.
  • 7th Ave from Victory Heir to Elm St.
  • Jonesborough Rd. between White St. and Huff St.
  • Patton Park
  • Greenways Trail from Jackson Park to Patton Park
  • Pets Own Place Dog Park on 7th Ave

For non-emergency situations you may contact the City Police Department Dispatch at 828-697-3025