Although limited to a small area of Wilkes County, heavy rain late Monday night and before dawn Tuesday caused unprecedented flooding.
It was another reminder of the damage flash floods can cause. Just last month, even heavier rain caused worse and more widespread flashflooding in western Wilkes.
As much as 6 inches of rain fell in the Brushy Mountains Monday night and early Tuesday morning, sending Cub, Moravian and Hunting creeks and other streams with headwaters in the Brushies out of their banks in and below the mountains.
Floodwaters reached some areas for the first time ever Tuesday morning, damaging gardens, personal property and a few roads.
For the first time in memory, Cub Creek covered Pennell Road where that road crosses the creek in Moravian Falls. This resulted from debris obstructing Cub Creek’s flow through a culvert beneath the road.
A short distance upstream, near the intersection of Pennell Road and Brocktown Road, an occupied camper along Pennell Road was surrounded by Cub Creek’s floodwaters.
A small portion of guardrail was left hanging in mid-air when a large landslide occurred along the paved portion of Brocktown Road in the Brushies. Parts of nearby unpaved Pores Knob Road were washed out.
Hunting Creek washed away the shoulder of N.C. 115 to the edge of the pavement just north of the Fishing Creek Road intersection.
Moravian Creek flooded Falls Road at a point near the Moravian Falls Campground fishing lake. Brian Hamby, N.C. Department of Transportation maintenance engineer for Wilkes, said work to address this flood-prone site has been delayed by lack of operational funding due to final approval of a new state budget being on hold. Once funds are available, Hamby said, dilapidated metal culverts beneath Falls Road will be replaced.
Last month’s severe flooding in western Wilkes came after the National Weather Service office in Blacksburg, Va., issued a flood warning, which indicates that flooding will occur or is occurring so this notice drew serious attention.
The National Weather Service issued a “small stream flooding advisory” for southeastern Wilkes at 11:17 p.m. Monday and the same warning for southern Wilkes (including specifically Moravian Falls) at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday. This sort of notice doesn’t make smart phone and TV alarms sound off, so flooding then caught people by surprise.
The points to be made are that unprecedented extreme weather events of all sorts are happening more often worldwide and right here in Wilkes County - and they can occur with little or no warning.
People should seriously assess the possibility of flash floods occurring where they live because they can be especially dangerous.