Haywood remains under flood watch

Officials report minor flooding
By DeeAnna Haney | Jan 15, 2013
Richland Creek Rushing
Haywood County is under flood watch until Wednesday. Here's a 3 p.m. video of Richland Creek near the Waynesville Recreation Center. (Video by: Jeff Schumacher)
Campbell Creek, Maggie Valley
Here is Campbell Creek in Maggie Valley, rushing past Campbell Creek Road around 4 p.m. Tuesday. (Video by: Stina Sieg )

While there has been some minor flooding during the steady rain that started Monday, county emergency services say they don't expect any serious flooding to occur.

The bridge below the Lake Junaluska dam is under water, but that isn't unusual when heavy rain occurs in a short amount of time, said County Emergency Service Director Greg Shuping.

Lake Junaluska security keeps an eye out for flooding in that area and NCDOT puts up barricades. That area does not leave any residents isolated when it floods.

He said reports from across the county gauge there has been anywhere from two and a half to five inches of rain.

"We don’t expect but another half inch or so and as long as it doesn’t come in as heavy downpours in a short period, we think we’ll be OK," Shuping said.

The main worry during any rainfall over a long period is landslides, but it's nearly impossible to predict when and where one might occur, he said.

Emergency services are keeping an eye on areas that have been known for landslides in the past, such as in Maggie Valley.

Otherwise, they look for warning signs.

"If we see heavy sediment in a stream or running down the road with gravel and thick mud, that’s not normal," Shuping said.

A freeze/thaw effect after today could also cause landslides.

"If we were to have a four to six-day period of heavy freezing and thawing, obviously that will cause it to expand and contract to loosen it up, but it doesn’t appear to be in the forecast," he said.

The rain pattern has had breaks with light drizzles, which he said gives the mountainous terrain time to drain off before heavy rain returns.

It takes about six to eight inches of heavy rainfall in a 24-hour period to cause major flooding and landslides, he said.

Several fire departments across the county are on alert with swift water rescue teams in case they are needed.

Haywood County is under a flood advisory by the National Weather Service until 10 a.m. Tuesday and a flood watch through Wednesday morning.