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Crews Begin Sizing Up Alberto's Toll On NC Mountains

North Carolina Department of Transportation
Photo from the mudslide where an NCDOT truck was pushed into the Catawba River in McDowell County.


Rain continued to fall in the North Carolina mountains Thursday. A flash flood watch for western North Carolina has been extended to early Friday morning. Earlier in the day, there was a break in the rain and crews used that to begin assessing the damage. 

Flooding and mudslides have caused lots of damage, but the continuous rain has made it hard to understand the extent of it. McDowell County has seen some of the heaviest rainfall. Jeremy Waldrop with the county’s emergency management office said crews were able to take a closer look.   

“We’re in the preliminary stages of assessing for recovery efforts right now," Waldrop said. "We’ll see what resources need to be brought in. Since the water is receding, they’re able to look at the roads and bridges a little better."

The county saw more mudslides earlier in the day. Crews were able to clear those and examine other areas that could be at risk. He said only a few homes have been cut off by flooding, but the residents are safe. 

Many roads across the mountains are still closed. A mudslide took out the westbound lane of Interstate 40 Tuesday night. The state expects to fully restore traffic there by Friday afternoon. 

Another inch of rain is forecasted, before weather systems begin returning to normal Friday. Meteorologist Doug Outlaw with the National Weather Service said that could still create problems. 

“Unfortunately, places that have had flooding and landslides in the southern part of the mountains of North Carolina, they’re going to continue to get rainfall," Outlaw said. "That’s why we’ve decided to extend the flood watch."

The deaths of four people this week have been blamed on the rain from subtropical storm Alberto. Two Boone residents were killed after a mudslide triggered a gas leak that leveled their home Wednesday afternoon. On Monday, two TV journalists covering the storm were killed when a tree fell on their vehicle near the town of Tryon.