ORANGE COUNTY – It rained and rained and rained Sunday, leaving Orange County residents stranded in flash flood waters, whether in their cars, at home, or out walking. Situations quickly became treacherous, and emergency service workers had to act quickly to get people out of danger.
Leonard Maynard watched in disbelief at the scene on South Estes Drive. He was waiting to hear if his girlfriend, Ophelia, could make it out of her apartment safely.
“I’m waiting for my girlfriend. She is stranded out there!” Maynard said.
The section of Estes Drive between Franklin Street and Fordham Boulevard no longer resembled a road or shopping center, but rather a fast-moving stream. Maynard said Ophelia had called him in a panic.
“She called me and told me to come and get her. She had just woken up and told me the water was up to her bed. I said ‘You have got to be kidding me!” Maynard said.
Emergency Service workers waded out into the rushing water to reach those who were stranded, and in the deepest parts of the water, used a boat.
“She told me everything in her apartment is destroyed. She’s okay but she can’t get out,” Maynard said, giving a sigh of relief.
Other areas across the county were submerged in water as well, including Umstead Drive, East Gate Shopping Center, Granville Towers, parts of Franklin Street and Rosemary Street, and the other side of Estes Drive.
Eli Lack has lived in Chapel Hill for 30 years. He watched on with neighbors as two cars were stranded in the intersection of Greensboro Street and Estes Extension in water up to the tops of their tires.
“I’ve never seen anything like this here. I saw those two cars get stuck before I got here, but other cars have made it through or are turning around,” Lack said.
Braxton Foushee watched from the other side of the road as Orange County EMS workers arrived on scene to help the two stranded cars.
“I saw it when it first happened and I knew they were going to get stuck!” Foushee said.
Kay Crissman was driving down Greensboro Street, but reached a point where the water was too high to continue.
“It did come up quickly. I drove through water up to the top of my tires. I knew I wasn’t supposed to, but I also knew I wasn’t willing to drive through a creek later. Then I arrived down here [Estes Ext. and Greensboro Street] and I knew I couldn’t drive any further,” Crissman said.
Carrboro Police set up a barricade between the entrance of Estes Park Apartments and the railroad tracks on Estes Extension.
Robert Fulwood has seen many floods during his life, and was worried about the aftermath of an event like this.
“The clean up is normally the worst part of it because this time of year you have the heat, you have insects, and reptiles, and germs,” Fulwood said.
High waters were not the only danger of the day. There were numerous reports of downed trees and power lines, debris in the streets, and traffic lights out across the area.
The Chatham County 911 Call Center experienced an outage and was forced to redirect calls. OC EMS set up a shelter at Smith Middle School to help house people displaced because of the storm.