Bye, bye storms, welcome sunshine

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 16, 2004

If the weather forecast for the workweek holds true, it should hopefully be a time where the Roanoke-Chowan area will be able to dry out in the aftermath of two tropical systems.

Flooding in isolated areas throughout the region has been noted in the wake of Tropical Storm Bonnie and Hurricane Charley. Winds from both storms were minimal, but the combined rainfall totals from these weather systems plus a stalled-out stationary front parked over eastern North Carolina have accounted for upwards to nine inches of precipitation since Thursday of last week.

Locally, that led to flash flooding in low-lying areas. Flooding will continue to be a problem along the Ahoskie Creek, a tributary that is expected to crest at well above flood stage by Wednesday.

&uot;There’s a lot of water that first has to make its way down the creek from its headwater area near Rich Square,&uot; said Hertford County EMS Director Charles Jones. &uot;The creek will continue to rise. I expect it will take at least two days before it reaches its crest stage.&uot;

Other than the flooding, the tropical systems were nothing more than an inconvenience. Hertford County did declare a State of Emergency, imposing an 8 p.m. curfew on Saturday until 6 a.m. on Sunday. Alcohol sales were temporarily halted as Hurricane Charley made his way northward. Storm shelters were open on Saturday at Hertford County High School and the Middle School.

&uot;Compared to the likes of (hurricanes) Isabel and Floyd, it was fairly quiet with Bonnie and Charley,&uot; noted Jones. &uot;I do feel for those folks down in Florida (where Charley washed ashore on Friday with 140 mph winds). They’ve got a big mess on their hands down there.&uot;

Heavy rain was noted throughout the area. The Peanut Belt Research Station in Lewiston-Woodville reported a combined 8.26 inches of rain from Thursday through Monday. The majority of that (5.83 inches) fell on Saturday and Sunday. At Tri-County Airport near Woodland, 6.05 inches fell during the same time frame. Again, Saturday and Sunday saw the bulk of the rain where a collective 5.2 inches fell at the airport.

Jones reported 5 inches of rain on Saturday at the EMS building near Winton.

Some of the hardest hit areas of Ahoskie were near the National Guard Armory and Central Ford as well as the Williams Circle area off Baker Street. Maple and Troy streets were also hit hard by flash flooding. The Armory experienced some interior flooding, causing today’s (Tuesday) Primary run-off election to be moved to the Ahoskie Recreation Center for the Ahoskie II precinct.

At the Ahoskie Wastewater Treatment plant, a total of 8.8 inches fell from Friday through Sunday. Saturday’s total was 4.29 inches while another 2.12 inches fell on Sunday.

Over in Northampton County, EMS Director Ronald Storey said flash floods were the biggest headache. There was no major damage reported in the county.

&uot;We were very blessed that we didn’t have much damage to report,&uot; noted Storey. &uot;We were prepared for the worst, but Charley had weakened considerably by the time it got to us. We played it very cautious; I guess it was better for us to be safe than sorry.&uot;

Northampton storm shelters were open at Conway Middle School and Northampton-West High School. There were few taking refuge.

Bertie County EMS Director Rickey Freeman also reported no major damage from either of the tropical systems. He said there was some localized flooding in low-lying areas of the county and a few downed trees.

Fortunately, there were no major power outages due to Charley.

Roanoke Electric Cooperative reported an approximate 900 members were without power for a brief time on Saturday. Marshall Cherry of REC said most of the affected customers were in Bertie County. As of 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, all active service had been restored.

&uot;We feel very fortunate to have made it through this potentially serious threat to the system as we did,&uot; stated Cherry. &uot;We thank our members for their concern and their patience during the recovery period.&uot;

At its peak, Dominion Power had roughly 20,000 customers without power on Saturday. Company spokesman Chuck Penn said the bulk of those outages (17,000) were in northeastern North Carolina.

&uot;We had about 8,000 customers without power in our Albemarle service area,&uot; said Penn in regards to the Martin and Washington county areas. &uot;The rest were in the Ahoskie, Elizabeth City and Outer Banks service areas.’

Penn said Sunday’s steady rainfall slowed the recovery efforts. Power was fully restored by late Sunday night.

Those with damage they feel is reportable to insurance companies are urged to carefully document their claims in writing and by taking photographs. Be sure to keep all receipts associated with clean-up and purchasing of temporary items to keep the affected property from sustaining additional damage while waiting for an insurance adjuster to arrive.

Meanwhile, local residents are keeping their fingers crossed for a break in the weather, hoping for an extended dry spell to dry things out. The forecast calls for partly to mostly sunny skies today through Saturday. There is a chance of widely scattered thunderstorms on Thursday and Friday. Highs during the period will range in the low to mid 80’s.