Rains cause flooding, power outages
by Staff Reports
The rains that have been falling since Sunday are causing flooding and power outages throughout the High Country.
Watauga County Schools were closed Monday due to the flooding. Interim Superintendent David Fonseca said many buses ran and some delivered children to school before being turned around, allowing the day to count toward state calendar requirements.
"Certainly it does not count for the education of our children, but it counts for the calendar," Fonseca said.
Fonseca said the AlertNow phone system was activated at 9:39 a.m. to call all emergency contact numbers for parents and guardians. The emergency contact list has more than 15,000 telephone numbers, meaning some families did not receive the call until after 10 a.m., he said.
The normal snow day list includes only about 5,000 numbers and takes 20 to 45 minutes to cycle through, he said.
The kindergarten orientation scheduled for Monday at Parkway has been changed to Wednesday, May 8. Parents and children that would have gone today will have the same appointment times on Wednesday.
The kindergarten orientation scheduled at Parkway for Tuesday, May 7, will take place as scheduled.
In Boone, Deerfield Road has been closed near the Moose Lodge as the river creeps out of its banks, and other areas are affected as well. Capt. Mike Teague of the Boone Fire Department said firefighters helped two people from the flood waters Monday morning after their vehicle became stuck at Deerfield Road near the golf course.
The N.C. Department of Transportation responded to approximately 12 to 15 mud and rock slides and debris calls overnight and this morning, said Maintenance Engineer Kevin Whittington. He said most were minor and were quickly removed.
A rock slide caused by heavy rains Monday morning blocked one lane of U.S. 321 just south of Blowing Rock below the Green Park Inn. The Blowing Rock Police Department directed traffic at the area beginning around 6 a.m. By 9 a.m. the debris was cleared from the highway and both lanes were reopened.
As of 10 a.m., Whittington said 12 roads were closed by DOT:
-- Roby Greene Road
-- Dell Coffey Road
-- Brookshire Road
-- Charlie Hollar Road/New River Hills
-- Bamboo Road
-- Watauga River Road
-- Dewitt Barnett Road
-- Guy Ford Road
-- Laurel Creek Road
-- Deerfield Road
-- Aldridge Road
-- Niley Cook Road
Boone Police Department is reporting that the Boone Mall entrance off Blowing Rock Road is closed, and water is standing in parts of Blowing Rock Road, especially near the mall entrance and Staples.
The Watauga River at Sugar Grove is at a stage of 12.75 feet this morning -- well above its flood stage of six feet -- and is still rising, the NWS said at 8:13 a.m. Monday.
"Expect this river and numerous smaller streams and rivers to remain in flood much of today," stated an alert from the NWS office in Blacksburg.
Power outages frequent
The persistent rain also has loosened tree roots and caused a number of trees to fall on power lines, according to Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corporation.
Exactly 487 members in Watauga County were without power as of 6:45 a.m., with another 63 customers in the dark in Ashe County, Blue Ridge Electric said.
Linemen worked throughout the night restoring scattered outages across Watauga, Ashe and Caldwell counties, including the largest outage that resulted from a tree on a power line in Watauga County that affected more than 5,000 members from around 7:15 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., said Renee Whitener, public relations director.
Members are encouraged to report outages by calling the cooperative's PowerLine at 1-800-448-2383. They also may call any Blue Ridge Electric district office to speak to a member services representative to report the location of a downed power line.
Stay far away from downed power lines, as they can still be energized.
To check outage status at any time, visit Blue Ridge Electric's online outage map at http://www.BlueRidgeEMC.com, where outage preparedness and safety tips can also be found. Updates are also available on the cooperative's social media sites at: http://www.facebook.com/blueridgeemc and http://www.twitter.com/blueridgeemc.