The area is recovering from persistent rains Wednesday which brought a torrent of problems to Surry County, including flooded roadways and numerous accidents due to hydroplaning.
It also was feared that two drivers might have been trapped in vehicles swept into the Ararat River, and one family was evacuated due to a flooded basement that involved a fuel spill.
The culprit was a relentless deluge of rain that dumped 5.54 inches locally from 7 a.m. Wednesday to 7 a.m. Thursday, according to personnel at Mount Airy’s F.G. Water Plant where precipitation totals are monitored.
“All of the rivers in the county flooded to some degree — all of them,” Surry Emergency Services Director John Shelton said.
“We had surface flooding everywhere — we had a lot of car accidents,” Shelton said, which involved hydroplaning due to the “extremely hazardous” road conditions. There were 15 accidents altogether.
Although no deaths or major injuries were noted, the high water did create some dicey situations.
“We actually had reports of two different vehicles that were hung in the water down there in the Ararat River,” Shelton said of incidents that occurred around 6 p.m. Wednesday.
Although it later was learned that occupants of both had escaped, public safety personnel mounted swift-water rescue operations under the idea the drivers might still be inside.
“We could see the vehicle, but we couldn’t tell if anyone was in it,” Shelton said of one situation.
“It was our understanding that he was traveling behind two pickup trucks and his vehicle was overturned by water and stranded.”
In the other incident, a small pickup became lodged between two trees, which were cut down by Ararat Volunteer Fire Department members in order to free the vehicle.
The lone evacuation cited by Shelton which affected a family on Indian Grove Church Road occurred due to water coming down a hill, washing out the foundation underneath the family’s house and also causing a fuel spill into the basement.
Overall, there was much “residential flooding,” Shelton said of water infiltrating basements and foundations.
Most of the major problems were situated toward the southern end of Surry County, including Pilot Mountain, Shoals and other areas east of Pilot Mountain.
Along with flooded roadways, a number of trees were downed, and there were reports of scattered, short-term power outages.
As of noon Thursday, 139 Duke Energy customers were still without service in the Pilot Mountain area, due to distribution problems at six different locations.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.