Weekend Flooding Caused Widespread Problems in Avery County

Published Monday, May 21, 2018 at 8:41 pm

Adams Apple Drive, just off Highway 105 in Invershield, where Friday night’s flooding tore out a five foot-plus culvert which made the roadway collapse.

By Tim Gardner

     Heavy rains wrecked havoc on Avery County last weekend, causing flooding, mudslides and road closures.

     Four to seven inches of rain fell across the county Friday and into early Sunday morning. North Carolina Highway 105 near the Avery-Watauga County line was closed Friday night because of a mudslide, according to Avery Fire Departments Coordinator Charlie Franklin. Some bridges or low-water crossings in the county were washed away and the heavy rains ripped large chucks out of various roadways.

     The hardest hit roadway was Adams Apple Drive, just off Highway 105 in Invershield, where Friday night’s flooding tore out a five foot-plus culvert in roundness that had contained the Linville River. At press-time, that roadway is still closed to approximately 30 residents of Adams Apple. Franklin said it will likely remain so until a new culvert or a temporary bridge can be installed.

     Also, U.S. Highway 221 is closed indefinitely at a point in Avery County – between Blowing Rock and Linville -due to a washout of the road in the county, Avery Assistant Fire Marshal Paul Buchanan confirmed.

     Besides Invershield and Linville, other locations in Avery County experiencing heavy flooding included: the Blue Ridge Parkway – Linville Falls to Grandfather Mountain, Banner Elk, Pineola and Edgemont.

     The trails at Grandfather Mountain State Park sustained extensive damage from the recent heavy rains of 11 inches in four days.  The Nuwati and Cragway trails are closed indefinitely until repairs can be made. This closure includes the four campsites on the Nuwati trail: Streamside, The Hermitage, Storyteller’s Rock, and The Refuge. In addition to safety concerns, foot traffic on these trails would cause further damage and erosion.

      Trails that remain open at Grandfather are also severely eroded and some have sections of steps washed out. There is standing and running water on the trails and the tread is slick. More rain is in the near forecast. Hikers should take these factors into consideration when planning their trip.

     According to meteorologists, the flooded streams and rivers may take a few days to recede as more rain is expected this week.

     Buchanan said Avery County fire and rescue personnel responded to “three to four dozen calls” Friday into Sunday morning due to the inclement weather. Several were motor vehicle accidents due to the heavy rains, including two he termed as major—one near Adams Apple and the other on U.S. Highway 221 between Linville and Blowing Rock.

     Avery officials are investigating a drowning that occurred Sunday at Elk River Falls. A man in his 20s from Ohio, who reportedly was in the area for a wedding, went under while wadding at the bottom of the falls. His name has not been released.

     Flooding and mudslides also happened in Northwest Caldwell County, which borders Avery County, forcing the closure of some roads in the Colletsville and Globe areas Friday night. Buchanan said there were multiple evacuations in those communities where some people were even standing on building roofs to avoid the flood waters.

     He added that shelters were set up in Caldwell County for people who had to be evacuated.

     Buchanan also noted that several fire and rescue personnel from Linville departments were sent to Polk County, NC to aid local fire and rescue departments there with people stranded from the flooding and in other needed manners. One person was killed in Polk after heavy rains triggered mudslides and flooding in that county. Searchers recovered the body of a woman whose home was crushed by a mudslide in an area of rolling hills near the town of Tryon.

     Abundant subtropical moisture was abundant over the North Carolina Mountains much of last week, allowing scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms to continue developing.   The rain became heavy at times, saturating the ground and causing flash flooding. The runoff from the heavy rains into creeks and streams caused sudden increases in water levels and flows, even in areas where rainfall was light. Small streams and creeks were then overwhelmed and rose out of their banks, flooding nearby lowlands.

     As a result, the National Weather Service in Greenville – Spartanburg, SC issued Flash Flood Warnings for parts of the county Friday and Saturday nights with a Flash Flood watch during most of both days.


Adams Apple Drive washout

Adams Apple Drive washout

Road shoulder washout along Highway 105 near the Avery/Watauga county line.



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