Persistent rains that caused safety concerns across the Triangle early in the week resulted in mostly traffic setbacks in this region.
Most of the local effects were in and around Zebulon, where the National Weather Service recorded 6.57 inches of rain over the 24-hour period ending at 8 a.m. Tuesday. On a rainfall map showing most of the central part of the state, only portions of Johnston and Wilson counties saw more rainfall in the same period.
Accordingly, eastern Wake County accounted for a majority of Wake power outages, affecting about 12,000 Duke Energy customers as of 5 a.m. Tuesday. That figure was down in the hundreds within a matter of hours.
The drenching left portions of the winding exit from westbound U.S. 264 onto U.S. 64 under about a foot of water. The flooding resulted in an accident that prompted Zebulon police to close that exit and keep N.C. 97 traffic from heading in that direction. Police closed the exits about 7:30 a.m. Tuesday but reopened them by 1:30 p.m.
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“All of that westbound exit was closed; otherwise we would have had accidents piling up in there,” said Zebulon Police Sgt. Craig Ziencik.
Drivers heading west on U.S. 264 who did not take the N.C. 97 exit were forced onto eastbound U.S. 64.
A few miles down the road, the Little River continued to flow over the bridge at N.C. 97 into the afternoon Tuesday.
“We notified (the N.C. Department of Transportation) there was water coming across it, and we continue to monitor it, but it never really got deep across it,” Police Chief Tim Hayworth said Tuesday afternoon.
The water initially was not high enough for police to close the bridge to traffic, but officials later taped the area off and redirected traffic on a 2.7-mile detour along Water Plant, Currin Perry and Green Pace roads.
DOT contractors in December finished repairs where Hurricane Matthew in October washed out the approach on the west side of the bridge.
But the site at Little River Park has been vulnerable ever since Matthew because floodwaters breached the historic dam there. The town has been considering how to restore the dam – a conversation that now includes completely overhauling the park space.
Knightdale and Wendell officials had less to report from the week’s rain.
Knightdale spokesman Jonas Silver reported minor standing water in his town. Police also blocked off sections of the Mingo Creek greenway and the crossing to the Neuse River Trail.
Wendell Police Chief Bill Carter said his town, too, had only minor flooding.
“Cypress Street is a typical area when we see periods of heavy rain,” Carter said. “ There were a few others (places), but all-in-all we didn’t respond to anything directly weather-related and consider ourselves fortunate in that.”