Warnings issued about rising waters on Catawba River - | WBTV Charlotte

Warnings issued about rising waters on Catawba River

Floodgates open at Oxford Dam... At 12:30pm Gate number 7 is at 16 feet and Gate number 6 is at 10 feet. (Source: Catawba County Parks Facebook page) Floodgates open at Oxford Dam... At 12:30pm Gate number 7 is at 16 feet and Gate number 6 is at 10 feet. (Source: Catawba County Parks Facebook page)

Warnings have been issued by Duke Energy for people living along the Catawba-Wateree River Basin as heavy rains move through the area.

Duke Energy says the basin "has experienced significant, widespread rainfall. Upstream Lakes James through Lookout Shoals are either spilling or have a spillway gate partially open."

Duke says it will continue to move water through Lake Norman.

"Mountain Island Lake is at about its target level, 96 feet, right now," Duke officials told WBTV at 5:30 p.m on Friday. "We moved water out to make room for anticipated downstream flow. Lake Norman is close to full pond and we will begin moving additional water downstream through the hydroelectric units soon, which means Mountain Island Lake will slowly rise."

Residents in the Riverside Drive community are watching the water levels.

The community survived a major flood back in May. Now this.

"Frustrating part is the unknown - not knowing if you're going to get flooded again or not" says Tommy Daniel. "Start moving as much as you can to high ground. Move my mom, my son to higher ground - safe place. Pets. Tie things down as much as you can."

Some folks began tying down their docks to secure it. Others pulled their boats out of the water. Residents says it's tough because all they can do is watch the water levels to see how fast it's rising.

Daniel and neighbor took a boat ride to see how Mountain Island Dam was doing.  

Daniel says "my feeling is right now - just kind of lost. I'm not really sure if it's going to get that high again or not. Can tell a little more later - once it starts coming up and how fast it comes up - from the times I've been through it before." 

Officials say it is difficult to say how high the lake will get, saying it depends largely on upstream rainfall and runoff.

"Under current conditions and predictions, we don't expect it to go about 102 feet, which will spare most lakeside residents from any high water impacts," officials said. "Most times, we are able to manage the downriver flow to prevent any impact to folks in low-lying, flood-prone areas, such as those on Riverside Drive. With recent excessive rainfall and runoff, we're managing the system to minimize any impacts to those residents. In the end, Mother Nature makes the call."

According to Catawba County Emergency Management, two gates at the Oxford Dam at Lake Hickory are open in an effort to move water downstream.

Officials are opening the dam wider because of rising levels on the Upper Catawba. This means the water on Lookout Shoals Lake will increase significantly.

There are flood warnings for the Catawba River and lake flooding.

"Use caution near water," Emergency Management tweeted.

Communities like Collettsville have experienced severe flooding since late Thursday evening.

Currently, John's River and Wilson Creek pose the biggest threat, according Captain Larry Price, Collettsville Fire and Rescue.

"They are still really high. They have started to come down a little bit, but we had to close down John's River Road last night," Price told WBTV.

John Mackie lives along John's River Road. Today, he was checking on a neighbor's driveway that runs across John's River. Water had engulfed the entire structure.

"That's a really strong concrete bridge, and he sure does have a lot of logs on it. He's going to have to clear that off," Mackie said.

John's River Road reopened Friday morning.

When it's closed, emergency responders said close to 300 people are left stranded in the mountain. 

Catawba County Board of Commissioners Chair Katherine W. Barnes declared a State of Emergency for Catawba County at noon on Friday, in response to serious flooding in several areas of the county.

The declaration does not impose any restrictions, but does authorize Catawba County Emergency Management to execute the County's emergency operations plan and allows for the requesting of resources from the State of North Carolina to assist in dealing with this emergency. 

Catawba County is experiencing flooding in the northern and eastern parts of the county along the Catawba River, including Lookout Shoals Lake and the Carpenters Cove area.

Prolonged rainfall across the Catawba -Wateree River basin from June 28th through July 5th, 2013 is causing the river and lakes to rise.

That water is expected to keep rising for the next couple days.

Catawba County Emergency Management will have staff in the flooded areas to assist affected citizens and is coordinating with the Claremont Rescue Squad and Oxford Fire Department to provide emergency assistance to area residents affected by the flooding.

County officials are encouraging all residents to register for the Community Alert System to receive important messages during and after emergencies such as this flooding.

Catawba County will be using the system to provide information to affected residents during the next few days.

Residents are urged to register their mobile devices even if they do not have a landline.

To register for the Community Alert System, go to www.catawbacountync.gov/alert.

"Under current conditions and forecasts, we do not expect Lakes Norman or Wylie to go over 100 feet, however; over the next couple of days Mountain Island Lake will gradually fill and there is the possibility that it will spill," Duke released in a statement.

They don't believe with current conditions that the lake level on Mountain Island will exceed 102 feet, but say it could happen over the weekend with additional rain.

"We continue to closely monitor conditions and operate the hydro system to reduce impacts," Duke officials say."

You can keep an eye on lake levels by clicking here or call 800-829-5253.

"As always, we encourage those living along lakes, streams and other low-lying and flood-prone areas to pay special attention to changing weather conditions and take any necessary precautions," Duke stated. "We will provide additional updates if conditions change."

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