ASHE COUNTY -The looming threat of continued heavy rain throughout the weekend has led the National Weather Service in Blacksburg, Va., to issue a flash flood watch for northwest North Carolina, including Ashe County.
The alert took effect this morning and will last through Sunday evening as the area can expect 3-10 inches of rain which will fall onto already completely saturated ground, increasing the potential for flooding. Alleghany, Stokes, Surry, Watauga, Wilkes and Yakin counties are also included in the Flash Flood Watch.
According to the NWS, flash flooding is a very dangerous situation which can cause the flooding of small streams and creeks, flooding of underpasses and other poor drainage areas, and mudslides.
Ashe County Emergency Management Coordinator Patty Gambill is working to prepare first responders and residents before this weekend’s rain.
Gambill said information has been sent out to all fire departments in the county to notify them of special needs residents who may require welfare checks due to the weather. Fire departments were also told that sandbags are available to them if needed.
Gambill is encouraging residents to move animals or items that are located in low lying areas or near streams to higher ground or indoors. She recommends that everyone should prepare at least three days of necessities including canned food, water, medical supplies, flashlights and batteries in the event of an extended power outage.
“That’s particularly important for folks who live in areas that are subject to isolation by flood waters,” Gambill said.
Motorists are warned not to attempt to drive across a flooded bridge or road. According to Gambill, if a bridge or road collapses there could be hidden debris. High water levels could also cause a vehicle to stall.
“In the past few years we have had several instances where first responders have had to rescue motorists that have attempted to drive across flooded streets,” Gambill said. “We don’t like to see that happen because we don’t want them to put themselves or others at risk by doing that.”
Blue Ridge Response
Blue Ridge Electric said Thursday ground heavily saturated by a week of constant rainfall, combined with additional heavy rain this weekend, could lead to possible power outages from fallen trees and large limbs.
It’s recommending Blue Ridge customers keep emergency essentials on hand in case the lights go dark. That means you should keep at least one gallon of water per person, per day, non-perishable, easy-to-prepare food items, a manual can opener, flashlights, battery-powered radio, extra batteries, first aid kit, medications and medical items, multi-purpose tool, sanitation and personal hygiene items, copies of personal documents such as medications, insurance policies, family and emergency contact information, extra cash, blankets, rain gear and other items that would come in helpful during wet or cold weather, battery operated clock, and a non-cordless phone which is likely to operate when power is out.
Blue Ridge Electric also advises to keep smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices charged, including external back up power supply devices.
If you need to report a power outage, call Blue Ridge Electric’s PowerLine outage reporting number at 1-800-448-2383.
Hannah Myers can be reached at 336-846-7164 or on Twitter @cmedia_hmyers.