Monday’s strong storm in McDowell resulted in more than 400 calls to the 911 Center, left 1,816 people without power and put one person in a predicament due to rising, rapid waters, according to reports.
Other nearby areas were hit harder. High winds damaged hangars, planes and cars at the Hickory Regional Airport and the City of Hickory declared a state of emergency on Tuesday. Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State announced Tuesday that it would remain closed until further notice after a retaining wall and portions of roadways collapsed there.
Conditions began worsen at approximately 2:15 p.m. Monday afternoon when McDowell County was placed under consecutive hazardous weather warnings, including a tornado watch that lasted until 5:25 p.m. and a flash flood warning that lasted until 1:30 a.m. Tuesday. As heavy rain and strong winds impacted the area, Emergency Services took at least 93 calls in regards to downed trees and power lines, numerous motor vehicle collisions, minor flooding at Catawba River Road and Mud Cut Loop and a landslide at Mt. Hebron Road at the McDowell/Buncombe line.
Among these incidents, emergency units responded to Gilbert Byrd Road near the McDowell/Burke line to perform a swift water rescue. Nebo Fire Department, McDowell EMS, McDowell Rescue Squad, Emergency Management and the McDowell Sheriff’s Office responded to this call.
The patient, whose name was not available by Tuesday’s deadline, was residing in a home on the property when the flash flooding occurred and entrapped him in the residence, according to Emergency Services Deputy Director Adrienne Jones. The property owner called 911 when he became concerned that the resident could be trapped inside the home. Emergency workers on scene made visual contact with the victim and could communicate verbally with him from their location. McDowell Rescue Squad launched a boat to pick him up. He was taken to McDowell Hospital and listed in stable condition.
According to Emergency Services’ update on Monday night, Duke Energy reported 1,816 power outages throughout McDowell.
“We were at max staffing for eight hours yesterday in our 911 Center to ensure calls were properly answered,” said Emergency Services Director William Kehler. “Once again emergency personnel from all agencies worked together through hazardous conditions to respond to nearly 100 storm-related incidents throughout McDowell.”
In a statement on Tuesday, Gov. Roy Cooper responded to the damage throughout western N.C., saying, “While this band of storms brought high wind, rains and some damage, we’re fortunate that we’ve had no reports of serious injuries or loss of life. Today, communities are surveying the damage and beginning the cleanup, and our state experts stand ready to help however needed.”
By 2 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, approximately 54,500 homes and businesses still were without power throughout affected areas, down from a peak of more than 92,000 the previous night.