GREENSBORO — A slow-moving storm dumped two months' worth of rain onto Greensboro on Wednesday night causing flooding in some areas of the city.
The National Weather Service said the reason for the deluge was because other thunderstorms had formed on the back end of the storm that popped up over the city around 6 p.m. and essentially kept the rain over the area for the next four hours.
"We had a good setup that allowed the storm to basically move very slowly," said Brandon Locklear, a meteorologist for the NWS in Raleigh.
With the flooding came multiple forced evacuations, water rescues and road closures.
Greensboro Fire Assistant Chief Dwayne Church said firefighters responded to 65 more calls than an average day with most of them coming in between 8 and 10 p.m.
Church said the department conducted 42 water rescues and emergency evacuations and 19 water-related calls. The majority of the water rescues occurred in the Latham Park and Westover Terrace areas.
Church said people were sitting on their front porches with water rising into their houses.
Firefighters had to use boats to rescue residents. At one intersection, water rose so high it was up to the rescuers' chests. The flooding was so bad at Station 1 on Church Street that it prevented firefighters from turning right out of their driveway when responding to calls.
Greensboro officials did not open an emergency shelter because of the storm, but Church said most evacuated residents went to stay with neighbors on higher ground or with relatives.
Latham Park neighborhood floods
Samantha Harrington, a resident of Grayland Street in the Latham Park neighborhood, said she watched firefighters wade through waist-deep water to check on her neighbors.
"It was just crazy," Harrington said. "I wouldn't want to live on Latham."
Harrington said her house is on a hill so the water flowed away from her, but she watched her neighbors deal with water damage inside their houses and their vehicles.
"Everybody on Latham Road that didn't move their cars got flooded," she said.
Police put up signs blocking traffic from Wendover Avenue but Harrington said they weren't helping to direct neighborhood residents out onto the street.
"People were driving around in circles trying to figure out how to get out," she said.
She watched one woman in a Fiat turn onto a flooded road and not see the water. As soon as her two front tires hit the water, her car was dragged into the flood. The doors began to open and water filled the car. The woman had to climb out of her sunroof to safety, Harrington said.
Greensboro police spokesman Ronald Glenn said the department tries to educate people about not driving into flood waters.
"They don't know how deep the water is and it can quickly become a worse situation," he said. "It doesn't take much water to move a car."
During Wednesday's flooding, Glenn said, officers spent most of their time erecting signs warning people not to enter flooded areas and directing traffic.
Flooding at creek sets new mark
Locklear said the weather service's gauges showed the water in North Buffalo Creek at Church Street rose from 2 feet to nearly 19 feet, which surpassed the creek's previous record of 16 feet.
On Westover Terrace, the creek's water level was under 1 foot before the storm and rose to 14 feet before the gauge there was submerged and stopped working.
Locklear said a hydrologist went to the creek Thursday to find the high water mark from the storm. They also expect to move the gauge.
Weather service officials want to use the hydrologist's data to create new information for residents that explains at what point streets are at threat of flooding as North Buffalo Creek rises.
More rain on the way
Locklear said residents should brace for more rain.
Meteorologists are tracking more storms to the state's west that will move through North Carolina for the next four to five days.
"We're going to be in a very wet pattern," Locklear said. "The good news is people can turn their sprinkler systems off and save on their water bills."
During the next week, the atmosphere will be prone to clouds and rain with marginal threats of excessive rainfall, he said.
Will the rain be like Wednesday night's?
Locklear said it's hard to predict where that type of storm will pop up.
But because Locklear likes to share good news, he said North Carolina was close to drought conditions so the rain is beneficial to the state.
However, because of the rainfall Greensboro saw Wednesday, the city is now very susceptible to the problems that come with wet soil — downed trees, power outages and flooding.