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30 people rescued, neighborhood underwater after heavy rain in Kannapolis

KANNAPOLIS, N.C. — Crews rescued more than two dozen residents after heavy rainfall in Kannapolis Tuesday.

(PHOTOS: Kannapolis neighborhood underwater after heavy flooding)

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According to a spokesperson for the City of Kannapolis, about 30 people were rescued around 3:45 p.m. off Tiffany Drive. The area is west of the city’s baseball field.

Several homes in the Town and Country mobile home park were surrounded by several feet of floodwater. It reached the tops of several cars’ tires parked at the homes. Irish Buffalo Creek appeared to have flooded its banks and the water ran through the woods that lined the creek.

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Fred L. Wilson Elementary School is being used as a triage area, and the Red Cross is helping people who need housing.

Both Rowan and Cabarrus and counties were put under a Flood Warning Tuesday until 9:15 p.m. and 10 p.m. respectively. The counties were also placed on a Flood Watch until Thursday.

Channel 9 Meteorologist Austin Chaney could see water rushing through Pine Street and Fred Wilson Drive, covering most of a playground and submerging a park bench. It nearly reached the top of a chain link fence.

Chaney learned some people would be allowed to return to their homes Tuesday night, but others would need to stay with family or be assisted by the Red Cross.

The city spokesperson said there were no reports of water-related injuries.

The Rocky River and Irish Buffalo Creek greenways, along with Safrit Park, were closed due to flooding. The Village Park carousel, splashpad, and train were also closed.

Officials instructed people in the area not to walk or drive through flooded roads. They also told residents to be aware that streets are closed in various low-lying areas around the city, including Louise, Marie, Waldorf, Mable, 22nd, Pine, Tiffany, Cadillac, and Pump Station Road.

‘I was scared to death’

Though the water started to recede by nightfall, residents didn’t want to let their guards down. With more rain expected, fire officials warn it won’t take much to send Kannapolis Lake and Irish Buffalo Creek over their banks again.

“We knew that it was raining but really it just hit quickly,” said Nivia Alarcon, who was displaced from her home. “The creek filled up with water and the trailers flooded.”

Residents like Alarcon told Channel 9′s Jonathan Lowe she had mere minutes to evacuate.

“What was your first thought?” Lowe asked.

“Get my kids out,” she replied.

Some neighbors were cut off from safety as flood waters engulfed the park’s only way out.

“Only thing that I could do is just sit and wait until the rescue people came,” said Clivette Daninburg, another displaced resident.

“I was scared to death to come out that door, but I had no choice ‘cause the water was all the way to door,” said displaced resident Joni Ledbetter.

Ledbetter couldn’t shake the shock of the situation. He was worried whether they would have anything to salvage.

“I have animals as well and my possessions -- yes they are material things, they can be replaced, I have insurance -- but that’s not the point of it all,” he said.

Daninburg, her neighbor, said she planned to take matters into her own hands.

“I’m going to walk right back in to my house,” Daninburg said. “I can’t leave. I have no where else to go.”

“Are you going to walk through that water?” Lowe asked.

“Yes I am,” she said.

Meanwhile, Alarcon had already made that treacherous trip.

“Not safely, and I shouldn’t have done it, but I did,” she said.

Lowe saw her trek through the floodwaters to retrieve one thing -- her insulin.

“What did you see in your house?” Lowe asked.

“There’s a lot destroyed, a lot,” Alarcon said.

She’s lived there for five years and said this is the third time it’s flooded.

“The whole bottoms of the trailers are all ripped off, mine is just -- it’s bad, this time it was really bad,” Alarcon said. “The other time we had to be evacuated too, but within a couple of hours it was down, and this still isn’t.”

Despite a strong spirit of survival, there’s still concern about how many there will rebound from the devastation.

“I hope to God that the owner of this trailer park will take into consideration these are low-income people,” Alarcon said. “A lot of us are on disability, or this is where we just have the choice live.”

Residents who wanted to stayed the night at a nearby shelter.

The only injury report was for a Kannapolis firefighter who was treated for fire ant bites. It’s one of those odds things that happens during flood emergencies -- the ants float to the top of the water.

That firefighter is expected to be OK.

(WATCH RELATED: Flash flooding possible in NC mountains as rain continues)





Austin Chaney

Austin Chaney, wsoctv.com

Austin Chaney is a meteorologist for Channel 9 in Charlotte.

Jonathan Lowe

Jonathan Lowe, wsoctv.com

Jonathan is a reporter for WSOC-TV.

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