Rain brings flood of problems to area

By Tom Joyce - tjoyce@civitasmedia.com

The area is recovering from persistent rains Wednesday which brought a torrent of problems to Surry County, including flooded roadways and numerous accidents due to hydroplaning.

It also was feared that two drivers might have been trapped in vehicles swept into the Ararat River, and one family was evacuated due to a flooded basement that involved a fuel spill.

One swift-water rescue was conducted on Radar Road at Casey Lane after a motorist attempted to cross a roadway covered in water and became trapped in his vehicle. Everyone made it safely from the water.

The culprit was a relentless deluge of rain that dumped 5.54 inches locally from 7 a.m. Wednesday to 7 a.m. Thursday, according to personnel at Mount Airy’s F.G. Water Plant where precipitation totals are monitored.

“All of the rivers in the county flooded to some degree — all of them,” Surry Emergency Services Director John Shelton said.

“We had surface flooding everywhere — we had a lot of car accidents,” Shelton said, which involved hydroplaning due to the “extremely hazardous” road conditions. There were 13 accidents altogether.

Fifteen flooding incidents occurred, according to a breakdown from Shelton’s office.

Although no deaths or major injuries were reported from any of the incidents, the high water did create some dicey situations.

“We actually had reports of two different vehicles that were hung in the water down there in the Ararat River,” Shelton said of incidents that occurred around 6 p.m. Wednesday.

Although it later was learned that occupants of both had escaped earlier, public safety personnel prepared to mount swift-water rescue operations under the idea the drivers might still be inside.

“We could see the vehicle, but we couldn’t tell if anyone was in it,” Shelton said of the thought process involved in describing one of those incidents.

“It was our understanding that he was traveling behind two pickup trucks and his vehicle was overturned by water and stranded.”

In the other incident, a small pickup became lodged between two trees, which were cut down by Ararat Volunteer Fire Department members in order to free the vehicle.

The lone evacuation cited by Shelton which affected a family on Indian Grove Church Road occurred due to water coming down a hill, washing out the foundation underneath the family’s house and also causing a fuel spill into the basement.

Overall, there was much “residential flooding,” Shelton said of water infiltrating basements and foundations.

In Mount Airy, Riverside Park did experienced some flooding, which is typical for that portion of the city during heavy rains.

Ararat hit hard

Most of the major problems were situated toward the southern end of Surry County, including Pilot Mountain, Shoals and other areas east of Pilot Mountain.

The Ararat area appears to be the most-affected.

Several parts of Ararat Road were under water and closed by Surry County Emergency Management and the N.C. Department of Transportation. Two of the more major intersections that were closed as a result of water were Ararat Road-Sheep Farm Road and Ararat Road-Radar Road.

Toms Creek Church Road, Simmons Road and Cook School Road in Pilot Mountain were all affected by flooding and numerous trees were downed. That area had the biggest population of downed trees.

There also were reports of scattered, short-term power outages.

As of noon Thursday, 139 Duke Energy customers were still without service in the Pilot Mountain area, due to distribution problems at six different locations.

In all, 10 incidents — involving power lines down and transformer fires — were reported in Surry County.

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.

By Tom Joyce


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