Perdue declares emergency due to heavy rain

September 28, 2010 9:00:00 PM PDT
Governor Bev Perdue has declared a state of emergency as North Carolina's coastal residents brace for drenching rains from a weather system interacting with approaching remnants of a recent tropical storm.

Perdue issued the precautionary declaration while Nicole was still a tropical storm Wednesday, but the system dissipated into rainbands that are forecasted to remain mostly offshore on their northward trek past the state.

Flash Flood watches are in effect through Thursday morning across parts of eastern North Carolina. The rainy weather has also prompted Tornado watches for several North Carolina counties.

Click here for current county by county watches and warnings

ABC11 Accuweather Chief Meteorologist Chris Hohmann says rainfall overnight could range from 2 to 4 inches, with isolated heavier amounts in some parts of the ABC11 Eyewitness News viewing area.

By late Wednesday, several school systems announced they are delaying their start time up to two hours Thursday morning.

Click here for current closings and delays

While the heaviest rains are expected in the eastern part of the state, the Triangle is also getting its share.

By Wednesday evening, rivers were already on the rise. Businesses along Crabtree Creek in Raleigh were preparing for the creek to break its bank. And the ground became so saturated in Durham that a tree tumbled to the ground taking down power lines and creating traffic problems.

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In Fayetteville, Cross Creek, which runs through downtown, continued to rise Wednesday night as storm drains gushed out rain water runoff, which lead to standing water on the roads. Police are blaming a number of fender benders around the city on wet roads.

"I've seen tons of wrecks around here," driver Corey Breece said. "This morning on my way to work I saw a bad wreck where a guy looked like he hydroplaned off the road and struck a telephone pole."

The slippery roads may have been the reason a Time Warner Cable track flipped over on the Beltline at Glenwood Avenue Wednesday night.

Emergency management officials say they have not seen any serious flooding problems yet, but say a prolonged deluge could quickly cause problems.

Meanwhile, emergency planners from Wilmington to the Virginia state line have put shelters on standby amid forecasts of seven or more inches of rain -- on top of up to 15 inches that have already fallen this week in some areas.

In Wilmington, a steady rain fell Wednesday afternoon, but Emergency Management director Warren Lee said there were few reports of early, minor flooding there.

"We're looking at flooding on a few streets right now, but we've got pretty heavy rain coming," he said. The county opened a shelter and emergency operations center in Wilmington in anticipation of flooding and possible power outages caused by winds expected to reach 25 mph.

Portions of N.C. 133 were closed after water covered the road, authorities said as they braced for possible road washouts, power outages and other havoc.

FEMA says residents in regions that could be affected by flooding should visit www.Ready.gov to learn simple tips on how to get ready for severe rains, flooding and possible flash flooding.

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