Catawba County flood damage causes evacuations, water problems

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Shareka Payne was forced to evacuate her apartment over fears of flooding. She returned to find brown, smelly water coming from her bathroom sink.

"Oh it stinks in here," said Payne after turning on her faucet. "Let's go. We gotta bleach it. We gotta clean it here. Oh, it's so nasty."

Outside, she didn't know what to do next.

"I've got five kids. The water's gotta be right today," she said. "I got a baby and everything...I don't have time for that. I'm not about to drink that water."

"I don't even want to take a shower in the water," another neighbor responded. 

Heavy rain on Sunday collapsed a section of sidewalk and part of the road in front of the Ridgecrest Apartments, where Payne lives, on 12th Avenue Southeast in Hickory. It's one of more than 20 roads  damaged over the weekend.

Neighbors say a pipe burst and caused significant flooding.

As of Sunday, 34 residents had evacuated to a nearby shelter. By late Monday, "many" had returned back home, city officials said. 

"It looked like a lake out here," said Tyrone Clemons. "It's Mother Nature. That's it."

The city of Hickory remained under a state of emergency Monday due to "flooding and flash flooding, which has resulted in significant infrastructure damage to streets, bridges, and other public infrastructure," city officials said. 

"It sounded like buildings crashing and the next thing I know the whole pavement just" collapsed," said Jessica Flak, who witnessed it all. "The whole road just flooded...I ain't never seen anything like it. It was really crazy."

FOX 46 alerted officials with Catawba County and the city of Hickory about the water discoloration. Officials say they were not aware of the issue but, because of what FOX 46 told them, sent public crews out to the neighborhood to inspect.

"City crews flushed the main line around 3:30 p.m. and it was clear," said Hickory city spokeswoman Sarah Killain. 

There are currently no boil water advisories in place. 

Crews arrived Monday afternoon to begin repair work. A section of road is closed off, cutting off easy access to Catawba County's social service and public health building. 

Hickory Statement

"At this time, there are no water advisories posted for City of Hickory water consumers. Some users may experience water discoloration due to a significant increase in demand from broken mains and water flowing faster in those mains to the affeted areas. The Public Utilities Department does not anticipate any issues with the drinking water and has not issued any notices for concerns. If residents experience discolored water, they can report it to Public Utilities by calling (828) 323-7427. City crews will continue to respond to calls as they come in for assistance.

Yesterday, Catawba County relocated affected residents at Ridgecrest Apartments on 12th Avenue SE in Hickory to a temporaray shelter set up at at the Catawba Valley Community College (CVCC) Tarlton Complex. There were 34 residents whos tayed overnight at the shelter but many of them have moved out of the shelter and returned to their homes. The shelter is still open for displaced residents."