Flooding causes evacuations; damages roads, bridges, greenway

Ezra Maille
Black Mountain News
Swannanoa River, near Swannanoa River Road, at about 9:15 am on Tuesday, August 17, 2021.

A flood warning was issued on Aug. 17 and a state of emergency was declared by the town of Black Mountain as rainwater ran across U.S. 70. The road was deemed impassable by local authorities around 8:30 p.m. 

Evacuations of flood prone areas took place including Flat Creek Road, Portman Villas mobile home park as well as Armory Mobile Home Park. A few rescues were performed by the town in these areas. 

"No injuries, no fatalities, so everyone was rescued and safe," said Josh Harrold, town manager. 

Over the course of two days, the Black Mountain and Montreat areas experienced the heaviest rainfall in Buncombe County in more than 50 years, according to Jeff Robel from the National Centers for Environmental Information.   

The county received 5.33 inches of rain from Aug. 16-17, surpassed only twice in 1964 and 1967 with 5.59 inches of rain and 5.44 inches of rain respectively, Robel said. 

Since the town declared a state of emergency for the flooding, additional emergency funds have become accessible in the event additional necessary actions must be taken. 

Charlotte Street suffered some undercutting from flood waters as Flat Creek jumped its banks during the storm. According to town officials, repairs have already been taken care of. 

"We fared pretty good on roadways," Harrold said. "We didn't really have any washouts except for that one road that we're aware of."

The Flat Creek section of the greenway received damage due to floodwater pooling underneath the asphalt. Harrold said roughly 100 linear feet of greenway section will need to be replaced. 

 "This is not the first time we've had to replace that section," he said. 

A cart path bridge was completely washed out on the golf course, but thanks to restoration work along the Tomahawk Branch running beside the course, very little additional damage was inflicted. 

The senior center by Lake Tomahawk had minor flooding on lower levels, as often happens during heavy rainfall, but was an easy cleanup for the town. Fortunately, no debris entered the building. 

The lake itself also fared well, maintaining its structural integrity. 

"We're just waiting for the water to recede, which it's done a lot of that," Harrold said. 

The waterline to Black Mountain was washed out, though fortunately, since Black Mountain shares a waterline with Asheville, the city was able to put in a temporary bypass line. The bypass line will be used until the main has been repaired. 

"I thought we were going to be in a lot worse shape," Harrold said. "I'm pretty happy about it really."