CHARLOTTE – Robert Graham says his colleagues always tell people not to attempt to drive through floodwaters, but Mecklenburg County’s deputy director of emergency management personally saw several commuters do just that on Nov. 12 as the region received more than 4.5 inches of rain.
Flash flood warnings from the National Weather Service extended well past the last of the rainfall. The last warning affecting Mecklenburg County expired at 2:45 a.m. Nov. 13. The National Weather Service reported 4.62 inches of rain fell at Charlotte Douglas International Airport.
Graham said vehicles can be carried away in as few as six inches.
“If you’re in a position where you can’t get around it, wait until emergency responders are on scene and they will mitigate the situation and get you through safely,” Graham said. “But have patience.”
Charlotte Fire Chief Reginald Johnson said mid-day Thursday that his staff responded to 112 flood incidents since 7:30 a.m. in addition to their normal call volume. They evacuated 143 people from Corvian Community School in the University City area and helped 12 people stranded in trapped vehicles.
Fire, police and the Charlotte Department of Transportation coordinated the closings of 63 roads.
Tim Troutman, with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services, said rain caused creeks everywhere to get out of their banks.
“What’s unique about this specific event is that it’s really happened countywide,” Troutman said. “We have had larger rainfall totals the past 30 or 40 years, but we haven’t had this type of rain throughout the entire county.”
Troutman encouraged residents to call 311 to report severe erosion, sinkholes or failing pipe systems, as well as remove leaves and debris from storm drains in anticipation of the next rain event.