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News State / Region Rainfall still causing trouble in parts of North Carolina

Citizens of Macon County are seeing a bit of a reprieve this week after almost being carried away by the heavy rains that came last week. The forecast had predicted rain every day this week as well, but it would be hard to top the large amounts that swept the area beginning last Wednesday prompting area officials to postpone the Fourth of July fireworks celebration until Saturday, the 6th.

Macon County 9-1-1 reported three instances of water entering the roadway; Arthur Drake Road in Franklin, Klein Road in Highlands, and River Road in the Cullasaja community of Franklin.

First responders rescued three kayakers last Friday as heavy rain swelled rivers and streams making the rough water a dangerous place to be. Photo by Travis TallentCitizens of Macon County are seeing a bit of a reprieve this week after almost being carried away by the heavy rains that came last week. The forecast had predicted rain every day this week as well, but it would be hard to top the large amounts that swept the area beginning last Wednesday prompting area officials to postpone the Fourth of July fireworks celebration until Saturday, the 6th.

Macon County 9-1-1 reported three instances of water entering the roadway; Arthur Drake Road in Franklin, Klein Road in Highlands, and River Road in the Cullasaja community of Franklin.

Five instances of landslides that were considered to be very minor were reported; one structure fire that was possibly caused by a lightning strike; and three river rescues from July 5 through July 8.

At a little before 6 p.m. last Friday, a call of distress came in concerning some kayakers who had become stranded on the Little Tennessee River just off of Needmore Road before reaching the Swain County line. The kayakers who were likely seeking larger rapids as a result of the storms had become stuck in the river because of the fast moving water and were unable to get out. In a little over an hour, first responders were able to get the subjects out of the water without incident.

According to totals provided by the Coweeta Hydrologic Labratory located in Otto, N.C., a total of 7.99 inches of rain fell in the month of June. In July, that number has already almost doubled with 13.04 inches from July 1-9. So far this year, Macon County has received 63.82 inches of rainfall. In years past, the average for the months January-July has been 43.24 inches.

Downed trees and erosion of local river banks are becoming a common site.The large amounts of rain from this week, last week, and since the beginning of crop season has also taken a toll on the local farmers of Macon County and the surrounding areas. Butch Deal, owner and operator of Deal Farms, said that the season had been extremely wet and it was starting to take its toll on many of the local crops.

"The heavy rain has affected the crops. We have low fields and high fields, and the high fields are doing pretty good, but the low fields are hurting," he said. "We haven't seen high amounts of disease yet which is good because the rain has delayed our spray schedule. If we don't lose anymore then we already have, then I think we'll be all right, but there's another storm on the radar that could hit next week."

On the business side of things, everybody who enjoys local produce will likely feel the crunch if the current streak of weather continues.

“When things are scheduled to come in in Hendersonville and other places in western North Carolina, there will probably be a decrease in product so the prices will go up,” said Deal.

Across the state

On July 5, Gov. Pat McCrory, state legislators, and engineers from the N.C. Department of Transportation visited WNC to assess the damage in different locations, mainly in hard hit Madison County.

Local farmers have been feeling the effects of recent heavy rains. Some “low field” crops have suffered increasing damage. Above is one of Butch Deal’s fields in the Cartoogechaye community.“We spent the morning checking in with residents of Madison County where storm debris litters properties and several roads were either impassable or damaged,” said McCrory. “We are here to help.”

NCDOT crews are currently assessing damage and determining effective and efficient ways to make repairs. According to officials, flood waters remain too high in many areas to realize the full extent of the storms’ impacts. When the water recedes, inspectors will examine roads, pipes and bridges that are underwater and decide whether repairs will be needed.

“Safety is our top priority, and as rain lingers in the forecast, our crews are working hard to monitor changing highway conditions in the mountains,” said NCDOT Secretary Tony Tata. “We have been collaborating with many agencies and departments, and once the storms clear, we will act quickly to repair and reopen affected roads so we can keep people connected.”

Though Macon County was one of the of hardest counties hit, neighboring Jackson County made the list for two different incidents that occurred there. Dark Ridge Road was closed for a short period of time when the hillside located above the road gave way, allowing debris to be washed into the roadway. Dicks Creek Road bridge suffered minor damage and parts of the road were washed out in multiple places as well. Traffic was still able to travel on both.

“We're committed to working directory with the NCDOT and local residents to restore full access to the counties impacted by the storms,” said N.C. Department of Public Safety Secretary Kieran Shanahan. “Together, we will help them through this challenging time and look for ways to move ahead quickly with the rebuilding process.”





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published: 10/18/2013
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