ROCKINGHAM — While Richmond County was spared the levels of devastation seen in other parts of the state, it wasn’t without damages.
Rain and wind from Hurricane Matthew on Saturday caused many trees to fall, taking down power lines and blocking roads. Several roadways were also blocked due to floodwaters.
Anthony Bristow posted a video to Facebook Saturday as he took his kayak down a flooded stretch of U.S. 74 Business near Food Lion.
Both Biltmore Drive and Long Drive also were closed due to flooding. The latter currently has a large hole in the northbound lane.
According to the N.C. Department of Transportation, Northside Drive and Bear Branch Road were also impassible Monday afternoon.
“Safety remains our top priority as we work to address the damage caused by major flooding on roadways,” state Transportation Secretary Nick Tennyson said in a statement. “While the storm has passed, many roads are still impassable, and conditions in some areas are worsening as floodwaters rise.”
DOT crews from the western part of the state are being diverted to assist in the eastern areas affected by the storm.
“We continue to stress that motorists should not try to drive through flood waters,” continued Tennyson. “Please pay attention to signs and barricades to help us avoid further tragedy on our roadways.”
Heavy rains also caused Hitchcock Creek to overflow its banks, turning the Steele Street access point into a water park, as teens slid down the newly-installed slide, splashing down into the water below.
Rockingham police and fireman were in the beginning stages of a search and rescue mission after sundown Sunday evening when it was reported that an adult and two young teens had waded down the trail and hadn’t come back. Earlier they had been riding the current down the creek to the footbridge.
“The creek is hazardous,” Rockingham city planner John Massey said Monday afternoon, adding that caution tape had been placed at the Roberdel point and the Steele Street access has been blocked.
Massey added that “it is not a good decision for anyone to get out” on the creek because of the strong current and submerged objects.
A toll is also being taken on local gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants as residents from other counties, including Robeson and Moore, come to Richmond County.
Denise Leavitt was one of several people from Lumberton in McDonald’s around lunchtime Monday afternoon. She said she had come to Rockingham with a shopping list to pick up supplies for the family and had planned to be home by sundown.
“We tried to stop in Laurinburg, but there was a massive amount of people there,” she said, adding that she was in the drive-thru lane at the McDonald’s there for a half hour before heading farther west.
Leavitt said her family has been without power since 5 a.m. Saturday morning and without water since 1:30 that afternoon.
“We’ve been boiling our pool water,” using it for bathing, and cooking on an outdoor stove.
Richmond County Schools will be on a two-hour delay Tuesday.
Reach William R. Toler at 910-817-2675 and follow him on Twitter @William_r_Toler.