Creeks recede, lake levels could follow pending forecasted rainfall

Creeks recede, lake levels could follow pending forecasted rainfall

Credit: DAVIE HINSHAW / Charlotte Observer

Flooding at dock on Riverside Drive along Mountain Island Lake on Thursday, July 11, 2013.

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by HILARY TRENDA / Charlotte Observer

WCNC.com

Posted on July 12, 2013 at 4:19 PM

Officials say water levels in Charlotte area creeks are nearly back to normal after more than four inches of rain fell in parts of northwest Mecklenburg County and caused flooding Thursday.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services spokeswoman Sharon Foote said Friday morning that even Paw Creek – which rose 11 feet on Thursday – had returned to well below flood level, despite the heavy rainfall from the past few weeks.

“The ground is saturated, (but) we’re still in really good shape,” Foote said. She noted that while some creek levels are running about a foot higher than usual, “I don’t see anything that makes me go ‘Oh my gosh.’ ”

“The interesting thing about Charlotte-Mecklenburg is our creeks rise and fall very fast. … Most were back down to base-flow within six hours (on Thursday).”

Of the numerous west Charlotte residents evacuated, preliminary reports show five structures had flood water in their living spaces, Foote said.

Members of Storm Water Service’s flood mitigation program planned to speak Friday with residents and businesses affected by floodwater in the Prince Road area, near Brookshire Boulevard and Interstate-85 , she said.

Foote said most of the reported damage so far has been to fences, vehicles, air conditioners and crawl spaces – not actual structures themselves – and are part of the reason it’s challenging to calculate a dollar figure for flood damages.

“There’s no single way to track the damage,” she said.

With more rain predicted for the weekend, Foote said crews are working to make sure ditches, culverts and other waterways are free of debris, especially in urban areas.

“There were some garbage cans people set out for trash pickup that literally floated away.”

Duke Energy spokeswoman Catherine Butler said the company is working to move water from lakes on the Catawba River downstream to not only create more storage space in Lakes Norman and Wylie, but to minimize flooding in low-lying areas.

“With the potential for more rain, it’s the smartest way to run the system, to protect from additional flooding in those areas.”

As of Friday morning, Mountain Island Lake –which has flooded a number of surrounding docks and yards in the past week – was above pond but slowly declining, which officials said could take several days. Lake Norman and Wylie, while higher than normal, are not expected to exceed full pond levels.

“Duke is continuing to work to reduce lake levels,” Butler said, noting continued rainfall will dictate how long it cold take before lake levels return to normal.

Boating in high water

Duke Energy officials remind boaters to slow their speed while lake waters are high. Runoff and heavy rains have brought lake levels along the Catawba River to full pond and as high as 2.5 feet above pond in the past few weeks. Until conditions return to normal, boaters are asked to slow down to avoid floating and submerged debris, as well as prevent shoreline wake damage – especially in narrow lakes and coves – which boaters are liable for.

Boaters and swimmers are also cautioned to avoid the water immediately above and below flowing spillways at hydro dams, as well as watch for increased currents and wear life jackets.

For lake level information: bit.ly/18dJJyd ; 800-829-5253.

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