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After a night of heavy flooding, Triangle residents clean up, dry out

Flooding hits Triangle after severe storms bring heavy rain

Three men help push a motorist through flood waters in the lower level of a parking deck at Crabtree Valley Mall in Raleigh, NC Saturday night, July 18, 2016. Severe storms move through the area dumping several inches of rain in just a couple of
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Three men help push a motorist through flood waters in the lower level of a parking deck at Crabtree Valley Mall in Raleigh, NC Saturday night, July 18, 2016. Severe storms move through the area dumping several inches of rain in just a couple of

Floodwaters poured waist-high into a southwest Raleigh apartment complex Saturday night, filling kitchens with mud, causing cars to float and forcing some frightened residents to swim.

Nobody was reported injured, but at least two dozen units were sopping wet Sunday morning as residents of the Brook Hill townhouse apartments on Dana Drive tried to shovel themselves out from the deluge. Cars sat askew in the parking lots, some on the grass where rising creek waters had pushed them. Residents splashed across the puddles in their living rooms.

Walnut Creek and a feeder stream surged over their banks at about 9:30 p.m. Saturday, and residents at Brook Hill reported the water pushing at their doors until they buckled. Frantic residents tried to move cars out of water that had risen as high as the dashboards.

“There was a car that got stuck,” said Xitlali Cruz Angeles, 13, “and some people had to swim to help them because they had children in the car. Luckily, nobody died.”

More than 6 inches of rain fell on portions of the Triangle on Saturday night, soaking ground already wet from summer storms.

Shelter opened

The Red Cross opened a shelter at Hillside High School in Durham, offering lodging and food. Half a dozen people were staying there Sunday, though others affected by the storm were moving in and out, said Stan Morris, executive director.

Raleigh crews reported sewer overflows in seven places, dumping more than 150,000 of wastewater into Walnut, Crabtree and Big Branch creeks. Cleanup is expected to continue through Monday afternoon. Another spill in Cary sent roughly 1,400 gallons into Reedy Creek.

While Brook Hill appeared to take the worst of the storm, Crabtree Creek flooded parts of Atlantic Avenue and the Crabtree Valley Mall’s parking lot, leaving cars submerged.

The Red Cross was assisting residents at Brook Hill on Sunday, many of whom lost air-conditioners to the flood.

Cleanup crews moved onto the muddy property Sunday, much of which stood within sight of the swollen creek. Susan Davis, regional manager for the apartments, did not know how many units were affected but said the damage was worst in two buildings, each of which hold a dozen families.

“Hopefully, they’ll have renter’s insurance and flood insurance,” she said. “If not, we’ll talk to them and see what we can do.”

Nearby, Jean Habyarimana was sifting through the wreckage of his kitchen, where water rose waist-high and put his refrigerator on its side. When the floods came, he told his wife to exit through the back door as he stacked a sofa on top of some chairs.

I got a disaster here.

Lisa Matthews

“By myself,” said Habyarimana, 33.

He said that his family came from Rwanda eight months ago and that his wife is pregnant with twins, but they and their child were able to find shelter with other family. He was able to move one of their cars to higher ground, but the other, he said, was completely underwater during the storm.

A few buildings away, Lisa Matthews said she fled her apartment into water that rose to her neck. “My grandson had to pick me up to get out of the water,” said Matthews, 49, her feet sinking into the mud on her living room carpet. “I got a disaster here.”

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