The local area saw plenty of Mother Nature’s ugly side in 2016, and, better put in some instances, the effects of humans manipulating nature.
There was a pair of significant weather events, including one of the more powerful hurricanes to hit the area in recent years.
People also faced the repercussions of a major gas line leak, and some people from Garner to Zebulon learned they may want to have their private wells checked for a specific, potentially harmful chemical element.
Here’s a recap of those stories and occurrences from the past year, some that proved deadly.
Jonas, the winter storm: A frozen weekend in January led to a lot of slick spots on roadways, power outages and school and business closures.
Jonas also contributed to several deaths statewide, including one in Johnston County.
More than 60,000 were without power after the icy wave of the Weather Channel-named storm swept through the East that Friday, freezing trees and power lines and shutting down much of the Triangle.
Gusty winds followed a light snow the next morning, upping the count to nearly 100,000 without power in the region. Duke Energy crews spent the day dealing with more downed lines brought down by trees coated with snow and ice.
Finding fuel: This proved to be a most difficult task for several days in September, as the effects of the Colonial Pipeline leak in Alabama reached the local region. Tanker drivers reported that they hadn’t seen so many dry pumps since Hurricane Katrina.
As word of the leak spread, so did panicked people looking to fill up their cars and other gas containers, leaving many stations with covers over their pumps until another shipment of fuel came in.
Places where an abundance of gas stations exist, like on Business U.S. 70 throughout Garner and Clayton, at times became a guess-and-check spectacle for motorists passing by. Some people whose fueling attempts came up empty there and again in Knightdale finally found gas, despite long lines, at the Sheetz in Wendell.
Well water woes: An August report by a Durham-area data science nonprofit revealed significant findings of uranium in 40 out of more than 400 Wake County well water samples submitted to the state lab for uranium testing from 2010-14.
That’s potentially problematic for private well owners, since consuming water with high levels of the chemical element for extended periods of time is associated with an increased risk of kidney damage and cancer. And since private well water quality is not regulated at the federal, state or county level, it is up to the well owners to ensure their water is safe to consume.
Wake County health officials initiated the 400-plus tests Insightus examined, after a sample submitted by an east Raleigh resident turned up a reading of 412 micrograms per liter. That is more than 13 times the federal limit for uranium in public water systems, which is generally applied as a safety standard for private wells.
The county had an obvious reason to concentrate its tests on the eastern Wake region: a large geologic formation known as the Rolesville Granite that covers about a third of the county, forming a triangle mostly between east Garner, Rolesville and Zebulon.
Matthew’s fury: Hurricane Matthew packed rains many compared to notable past storms Floyd and Fran.
Though Matthew was a Category 1 hurricane when it reached North Carolina in October, it caused major flooding and damage to the eastern part of the state – Johnston County included – and in more isolated instances in Wake.
It also claimed the life of a Youngsville man, among several others, who could not escape floodwaters as the car he was in was swept into Swift Creek off Cornwallis Road.
Johnston County was particularly hard hit by the storm. Safety crews closed portions of Interstates 40 and 95, and U.S. 70 near Selma.
Johnston schools were closed for a week and county officials also issued a warning to boil water, for residents who still had it, because water line breaks created a threat for bacteria in the water.
Power outages lasted for days for tens of thousands in both Johnston and Wake counties.
While the Neuse River swelled to record heights in Smithfield, the Little River became not so little in Zebulon and points south.
Several cars were swept off N.C. 97 where the river passes by Little River Park, though no serious injuries were reported.
The N.C 97 bridge over the river ended up under the river and the surging water washed out a 20-foot-wide section under roadway, forcing police to reroute traffic for a couple months until state transportation officials could make repairs.
Gradually, the bulging river took its toll on the Little River dam, a Zebulon landmark dating back to 1871.