Duke Energy lowering lake levels in advance of heavy rainfall from Hurricane Sally

Sally to bring flooding possibility

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Duke Energy is lowering local lake levels in advance of the heavy rain being forecast for the Carolinas Thursday.

The power company sent out a press release Tuesday explaining that lake levels are being lowered as water is being moved aggressively through local river systems. The adjustments are being made because Hurricane Sally is expected to bring heavy rain to the Carolinas Thursday.

Bill Strain, a resident of Riverside Drive along the Catawba River in northwest Charlotte, has experienced severe flooding at his home. Strain said the bottom half of his house was seriously damaged by floodwaters after a period of heavy rain in June of 2019. He was not alone. Several residents along Riverside Drive witnessed their homes fill up with floodwater during the same storm.

“I was lucky enough to have another place that I could go back to and a lot of these folks out here had no place to go and just lost everything they had,” said Strain in an interview with WBTV Wednesday.

The Riverside Drive homeowner said he is still in the process of restoring his house.

“I’m working on it, board by board, nail by nail, and getting it put back together and hopefully it doesn’t happen again,” said Strain.

Duke Energy operates several dams and hydro stations along various bodies of water across the Carolinas. Strain noted that he thinks the water levels could have been managed differently during that 2019 storm so that residents could have avoided severe flooding in their homes.

“There was a glitch somewhere. Just exactly what happened, I don’t know,” stated Strain.

Kim Crawford, a spokesperson from Duke Energy, spoke to WBTV in an interview Wednesday about the management of lake levels. She also addressed the flood-prone areas in the Charlotte region.

“Those are areas, especially Lookout Shoals, where we could see filling, so really until the rain comes and we see how it falls and how much, we do have good storage in (Lake) Norman. (It) could help especially since Mountain Island is a much smaller reservoir than Lake Norman, but some of those low-lying areas like Riverside Drive, we just encourage people to be ready and be paying attention,” said Crawford.

When asked about waterfront property owners blaming Duke Energy’s lake level management for flooding, Crawford spoke about the lowering process and the negative implications of potentially moving too much water to lower lake levels.

“Well, you don’t start really moving water below your target until you have a forecast and you see what’s happening,” the spokesperson stated. “You wouldn’t want to move too much water and then end up in a drought condition or situation, so it isn’t an exact science, as you know meteorology and forecasting, so we’ve moved water just as aggressively as we can for this storm.”

Crawford noted that by Thursday morning, Lake Norman will have about three feet of storage and Lake Wylie will have about five feet of storage.

Crawford said the power company has seasonal target levels for the lakes, but has permission to drop the water levels lower than the target levels.

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