‘We are literally in the river’: Residents seek higher ground as Gaston County river rises

GASTON COUNTY, N.C. — Gaston County Emergency Management called for a voluntary evacuation of portions of the towns of Cramerton, Lowell and McAdenville along the South Fork Catawba River in anticipation of flooding from Thursday’s storm.

Some areas got 3 to 6 inches of rain and the river rose 12 feet in less than 12 hours.

“We are literally in the river,” resident Kathy Chestnut told Channel 9 the next day.

She had to evacuate to higher ground as water levels got higher.

“About 4 o’clock this morning, they came and evacuated everyone out of the apartments,” Chestnut said.

Fortunately, conditions started drying out Friday after the rainfall stopped the night before.

“It’s a great feeling,” Holguin said. “Missed them. I was just worried, you know. But they’re good. That’s what matters.”

The water started to slowly recede across Gaston County, including the South Fork Catawba River, which crested just over 16 feet Friday afternoon.

It was the highest the river has crested since 2013.

There’s a flood warning in effect for the area until Sunday morning, and the river is expected to remain above flood stage through Saturday.

Voluntary evacuation

The affected area in Cramerton included Riverside Drive between Fourth and Fifth and Sixth streets and Goat Island Park, officials said Thursday night when they announced the voluntary evacuation.

In Lowell, the affected area was Catawba Run Road.

In McAdenville, the affected area was Lakeview Drive adjacent to Pharr Yarns.

The Cramerton and Lowell police departments went door-to-door Thursday in those areas alerting residents about the flooding danger.

Amber Smith and her children were shocked to see just how high the South Fork Catawba River rose Thursday evening.

“Honestly, I’ve never seen the piers over there as flooded as they are,” Smith said. “It’s all the way up. The whole park’s flooded over there.”

The Cramerton Fire Station was evacuated to protect equipment and ensure availability in the event it is needed.

The South Fork River was expected to rise to 16 to 18½ feet by 1 a.m. Friday, which is considered in a major flood stage.

The town of Cramerton prepared for more flooding overnight Thursday. Businesses along Eighth Avenue used sandbags to keep the water out.

“The National Weather Service is planning on having another 3 to 4 feet rise and as you can see back here, with another 2 feet, it will come up on our banks and affect our Fire Department, here,” Mayor Will Cauthen said Thursday after the storm.

The mayor said he thought the river would rise more than 3 to 4 feet that night.

“I think they generally try to stay conservative,” Cauthen said. “I think with the continued rain, we could see more than that, and we’re prepared for more than that.”

Officials encouraged residents, “living along the South Fork River to use caution in low-lying and flood-prone areas, keep alert for rising waters and be prepared to evacuate.”

“We want to caution safety above all else. Buildings can be rebuilt, lives cannot,” Cauthen said.

For further information, contact the Gaston County Office of Emergency Management at 704-718-5662.