Hurricane Florence floods Stanly County

Cleanup begins as flood waters crest

Hydroelectric Dam on Lake Tillery in Norwood, N.C. | Michael Lanier for the Stanly County Journal (A Different Perspective)

ALBEMARLE — Stanly County is recovering from devastating floods brought on by the remnants of Hurricane Florence which struck North Carolina and South Carolina last week. Serious flooding occurred throughout Stanly County during the weekend, and the county government issued a curfew for all residents Sunday evening that ended Monday morning.

Sheriff George T. Burris announced the curfew in a statement on Sunday afternoon. “Please adhere to this curfew and stay off the roads unless it is an emergency or work related,” said Burris. “This will be enforced.” Work-related travel was exempt from the curfew.

Utility crews from multiple states worked to restore power with a high of more than 1.5 million outages, mostly in North Carolina, due to the storm. In Stanly County, many residents kept their lights on.

Roads were also washed-out around the county. The N.C. Dept. of Transportation closed all low water bridges throughout the county Sunday afternoon as riverbanks spilled over with rain water.

(L-R) Norwood Town Manager John Mullis, Commissioner Joseph Burleson, N.C. Rep. Justin Burr and U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson examine flodding near Norwood on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2018

In Norwood, which declared a state of emergency on Thursday ahead of the storm, the waste water treatment plant overflowed. Town manager John Mullis said over all, the town infrastructure seems to have survived the storm.

“With regards to our waste treatment plant, we are still assessing,” said Mullis. “The plant did receive excess flow and did overflow.”

Mullis said another concern is sewer lift pumps. “They have run-stop and I fear that we’ve suffered some damages,” said Mullis. “We are hearing and feeling some vibrations that indicate failure could be near.”

“Right now, we are focused on health and public safety,” he added. “Our town is resilient and we are thankful that it wasn’t worse than it was.”

On Monday, flooding was still occurring, including large structures washed into Lake Tillery.

Pee Dee Electric, which covers a portion of Stanly County, reported that 176 of its 588 customers in Stanly County lost power at some point in the storm. According to Pee Dee spokesman Seth Allen, approximately 10,000 of the co-op’s 20,000 members in seven N.C. counties lost power due to Florence.

Duke Energy reported on Tuesday that 433 customers were still without power in Stanly County. The utility could not provide a figure for the total number of outages in the area where they have over 11,000 customers.

County, state and national leaders were still assessing the broader situation on Tuesday. State Rep. Justin Burr said that he had been traveling across the county and was working with state and federal agencies to begin the process of cleaning up.

“Most of the damage in our area seems to be DOT related,” said Burr. “Some of the bridges are still covered so we will have to wait until the waters recede to fairly assess the damage. We’re still sort of in the middle of it, unfortunately.”

Burr praised the initial response to the storm by local authorities. “We appreciate all of the work of first responders and DOT workers who have worked constantly to face this issue,” said Burr.

Burr planned to tour the county on Tuesday afternoon with U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson who represents Stanly County, as well as the hard-hit Fayetteville area, in Congress.

Eighteen counties in N.C. are subject to a federal disaster declaration issued by President Trump. “At this time, Stanly County has not been included in the President’s disaster declaration,” said county manager Andy Lucas. “As additional assessments are made, FEMA may include additional counties.”

Lucas said that the county’s water infrastructure received damage, but that he was not aware of any overflows at the county’s wastewater facilities.