How and when did Duke Energy, county emergency officials alert Mountain Island Lake residents to flooding

Questions after Mountain Island Lake floods

MOUNTAIN ISLAND LAKE, N.C. (WBTV) - Some homeowners near Mountain Island Lake are looking for answers. Lake levels reached into homes, flooding and damaging property.

Some people feel Duke Energy didn’t give them enough advanced warning and they want to know what was Duke Energy doing? Why didn't the utility control the water levels?

"I would say that this storm and the amount of rainfall and the rate that the rain came was beyond our normal experience operating these plants,” said Michael Brissie. “And this is top four amount of rainfall that we've managed in 100 years of the system and so some of the numbers are unproven and did exceed our initial estimated."

Brissie, who is a General Manager of Hydro Operations, says the storm that passed though the upper Catawba near Morganton and Hickory on Saturday afternoon and evening dumped more than eight inches of rainfall. All that water from the upper Catawba made its way down the river.

“And as we worked through our predictions throughout the day on Sunday the volume of water continued to increase beyond our initial estimates,” said Brissie. “Going into the storm all of our lakes were at their target elevation. Saturday afternoon we began drawing them down. Mountain Island was down to 96 feet – four feet below full pond – which would be a good position for a normal storm. As I said this was a much larger storm than we’ve had experience with in the past and that’s why you see the rainfall that you do and the elevation rise.”

Some of the folks forced to evacuate their homes near Mountain Island Lake told WBTV that they didn’t get much notification that their homes were in danger of being flooded.

Brissie says Duke Energy did post updates to their websites and notified Mecklenburg County Emergency Management.

According to Duke Energy, at 9:30 Sunday morning they notified Mecklenburg County Emergency Management that Mountain Island “would exceed 102.5 feet.”

Duke says at 10:45 a.m. they updated their web message to say 104 feet.

The utility says at 1:40 p.m. their web message changed and said “not to exceed 105 feet.”

At 4 p.m. they said “it will not exceed 106 feet.”

But Duke Energy says at 6 o’clock Sunday they reported that the lake “will exceed 106 feet.”

“We updated our forecasting and lake levels and flooding levels as soon as we get them. There was a whole lot more water than we’re used to managing coming at us yesterday as well as inflows from additional rainfall throughout the day that affected what our forecasted numbers were,” said Brissie. “Once those numbers were revised, we communicated that to local emergency services to notify the public with any means they see necessary.

A spokesperson for Mecklenburg County Emergency Management gave WBTV the time line of when and how the county alerted residents.

According to the county’s emergency management office:

  • 12:44 p.m. – CharMeck Alerts Notification sent to contacts in the Riverside Drive area
  • Charlotte-Mecklenburg Emergency Management is monitoring the inclement weather and advising your area to expect flooding due to significant rainfall. Stay tuned to the National Weather Service for weather updates and be cautious of standing water.
  • 2:36 p.m. – Charlotte-Mecklenburg Emergency Management coordinated with the National Weather Service to send out an area flood warning. NWS send the area flood warning via NOAA weather radio, all media outlets, cell phones in the area affected, and through Twitter and Facebook. NWS issued additional flood warnings throughout the afternoon for areas along the Catawba River.
  • 3:00 p.m.-5:00 a.m. – Charlotte Fire Department personnel was on site in the Riverside Drive area. During this time, CFD went door-to-door in the Riverside Drive are notifying residents of the voluntary evacuation order.
  • At 7:30 p.m., personnel included a flyer with emergency information and shelter details. Charlotte Fire Department transported residents that needed it to the shelter at Hopewell High School.
  • The total number of residents at the shelter by Monday morning totaled 12 people, 3 dogs, and 1 cat.
  • 9:04 p.m. – CharMeck Alerts Notification sent to contacts in the Riverside Drive area
  • This is an urgent message from Charlotte Mecklenburg Emergency Management. Flooding is occurring now in your area and is expected to worsen overnight. The time to take action is now. Shelter is available at Hopewell High School on Beatties Ford Rd. If you are in a life-threatening situation or need evacuation assistance, call 911.
  • 9:56 p.m. - A joint media advisory from the City of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Emergency Management was released.
  • 10:00-10:30 p.m. – Charlotte-Mecklenburg Emergency Management shared social media messaging echoing the information provided in the media advisory.

County emergency officials say “CharMeck Alerts is a public alert and warning system used by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Management to push out emergency and community information. CharMeck Alerts is an opt-in system and residents can register at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Emergency Management encourages all of its residents to register for CharMeck Alerts and to keep a NOAA Weather Radio in their home.”

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