Officials hold press conference about flooding

Fire fighters responded to 58 flood-related calls early Wednesday morning.
Fire fighters responded to 58 flood-related calls early Wednesday morning.

Posted by Jeff Rivenbark

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte city leaders held a press conference Wednesday afternoon to discuss how various departments responded to the flooding early Wednesday morning.

Wayne Broome is the Director of Emergency Management for Mecklenburg County.  He says the county started getting calls from residents early Wednesday morning.  Street flooding occurred in the usual places and then escalated.  About 7 inches of rain fell during the morning and an additional 1.5 inches are expected later today.

As of 1 p.m., there were still some areas under water.  He urged people to stay out of the water -- turn around and don't drown.  They will not be putting city workers in these flooded areas until the water recedes.

Officer Bob Fey is the spokesman for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.  He said the CMPD opened up their command center at 7 a.m.  Briar Creek and Little Sugar Creek were the two areas most affected by the flooding.  A portion of Independence Boulevard had to be shut down during the morning commute due to rising water.

Officers have been called in to work earlier and extended shifts.  They will be monitoring the Steele Creek and other areas of south Charlotte for potential flooding tonight.  They responded to an extremely higher number of traffic accident calls most likely due to the rain and flooding.

The Charlotte Fire Department responded to 170 calls for services of which 58 were flood related.  They went to 69 flood incidents and 35 were incidents involving evacuations or rescues.  Each fire truck is equipped with floatation devices to assist with water rescues.  They do not think the rainfall this evening will be as intense as what we experienced this morning.

Mecklenburg County Board Chair Jennifer Roberts thanked the first responders for all their efforts.  She stressed that floodwaters are unsafe and that people should not drive through the water.  She also mentioned the flooding at the Doral Apartments.  The county is working with the federal government on a buy-out of the land for the apartments since this area is prone to flooding.  Eventually, the county plans to convert the land into a green way or park.

Tim Troutman is with the Mecklenburg County Storm Water Services Department.  His department began monitoring the rain gauges across the county late Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning.  At this point, Storm Water Services is continuing to monitor stream levels.  He said in Pineville the water levels are high and are beginning to peak.  Starting Thursday, the staff in his department will begin talking with homeowners who were impacted by the flooding.  They will provide them with information and assistance related to flood plains.

Sharon Foote is with Mecklenburg County's Land Resource Department.  She said if you have a four-wheel drive vehicle, you should not attempt to drive through flood water.  She said 18 inches of water is enough to sweep a school bus off a road.  She also said people should not play in flood water.  There not only exists the threat of drowning, but there may be live power lines under the water in which you can't see.  The floodwaters are unpredictable and hard to tell if the risk has ended.

Rick Shue is with the American Red Cross.  His workers were notified around 3 a.m. this morning to set up an emergency shelter at East Mecklenburg County.  They opened the doors of the shelter at 6 a.m.  They had 67 residents in the shelter as of 2 p.m.  They are expecting more evacuees this evening as people come home from work and realize their home has now flooded.  They will determine on Thursday if the shelter should remain open or closed.

The Charlotte Mecklenburg Utilities Department says citizens' drinking water is not impacted by the flooding.  All five waste water treatment centers are operating as normal.  At this time, they are working primarily on manhole spills, but most of these situations are minor.

CATS said 10 bus routes were affected this morning due to the flooding.  By 2 p.m., only 2 routes were affected or detoured.  Nine buses went to 6 locations to assist the fire department in transporting citizens who had to leave their homes due to flooding.

Six streets in the city will not be getting trash picked up due to flooding and this will affect 200 homes.  Those homeowners will be serviced by Saturday.

Layton Lamb is with the Charlotte Department of Transportation.  For the last week, he says his crews have been cleaning out catch basins and streets in anticipation of potential flooding.  They are accessing the roads to see if there were any damages due to the flooding.  They anticipate seeing more holes in the road or damage due to the flooding.  He says all the city departments worked well in providing services during this flood situation.

Char Mec 311 handled 900 calls between midnight and 9 a.m. contributing to a 34 percent increase in their normal call volume.  The calls were answered on average within 7 seconds.  People were primarily concerned about transportation issues and bus service for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.