LINCOLNTON — A chunk of North Carolina's mountains and foothills are facing flash flooding that's being blamed for three deaths.
The National Weather Service said Sunday that six inches or more of rain has fallen in parts of the region between Boone and Lincolnton since Thursday.
Three men died Saturday after their vehicle hit high water on a road west of Lincolnton and slammed into a tree.
A preliminary investigation indicates that the vehicle was traveling west on N.C. 27, hydroplaned and ran off the road, according to a release from the North Carolina Highway Patrol.
The vehicle collided with a tree and overturned in Rockdam Creek. All three occupants were trapped in the vehicle, which was on its side and submerged in approximately six feet of water, the Patrol states.
The creek waters were higher than normal due to heavy rainfall over the past two days and rescue efforts were greatly hindered by extremely heavy rainfall at the time, according to the highway patrol.
The vehicle was being driven by Loyde J. Neal, 52, of Lincolnton; the right front passenger and vehicle owner was Sebastian Lee Fredell, 22, of Lincolnton and the rear seat passenger was Andrew Jacob Abernathy, 46, of Shelby, WGHP/FOX8 reported.
Catawba County commissioners declared a state of emergency Sunday to coordinate recovery after roads were closed by high water.
Residents of a Hickory apartment complex evacuated to a temporary shelter at Catawba Valley Community College.
The excessive rainfall has resulted in numerous water rescues, severe flooding, infrastructure damage, hazardous travel conditions and to potential for widespread power outages for residents in the county,officials said.
A flood warning also has been extended for Burke and surrounding counties until 4:15 p.m. Sunday.
The National Weather Service in Greenville-Spartanburg has issued the warning for Burke, Catawba, McDowell, Caldwell, Alexander, Lincoln and Avery counties.
The Catawba County Parks Systems has closed Bakers Mountain Park, Riverbend Park and St. Stephens Park due to storm-related conditions until further notice.
A temporary shelter is set up at the Tarlton Complex at Catawba Valley Community College in response to flooding at Ridgecrest Apartments located at 12th Ave SE in Hickory. The Tarlton Complex is located at 2550 US Hwy 70 SE in Hickory.
The shelter is open for residents and their pets who have been relocated due to the storm, the press release from the county said.
The shelter is staffed by county personnel and American Red Cross volunteers. Cots, blankets, restrooms, showers, food and a mobile pet shelter are available at the shelter.
Residents seeking shelter at the Tarlton Complex are advised to bring medications, personal care items, a change of clothes, pet vaccination records and pet supplies including food, food if residents have special food needs and a pillow and blanket if residents prefer their own, the release said.
For more information on the shelter, call (828) 466-7213.