Tropical Storm Zeta swept into Surry County early this morning, bringing with it heavy rain and wind that’s resulted in power outages throughout the county, widespread flooding, and at least two water-related rescues.
The storm has been moving through Surry County since early morning, with the center of the tropical system sweeping through in the late-morning hours, according to the National Weather Service in Blacksburg, Virginia. Erik Paylor, a meteorologist there, said rain from the outer bands of the storm began in Surry County Wednesday evening and lasted through the night, with the higher winds and heavier rain associated with the center of the storm passing over the region Thursday. The county remains under a flash flood watch until 2 p.m.
Surry County Emergency Services Coordinator John Shelton said county crews, along with law enforcement and the North Carolina Department of Transportation, have been busy trying to keep up with all of the calls.
Among those were two water rescues where families were trapped in their homes by fast-rising water.
“We’ve had several reports of roads under water throughout the county,” he said, adding that some bridges have been underwater — preliminary reports indicate a small bridge on Nurse Road may be completely washed away. There have also been reports of downed trees, and even a mudslide on Route 268 near Rockford Road.
“We have numerous, numerous calls coming in from all over the county. So far, no major crisis, other than trying to get everything under control.”
Both Surry-Yadkin Electric Cooperation and Duke Energy have reported widespread power outages in the county, though the bulk of the storm-related electricity outages seem to be outside of Surry County.
As of 11:30 a.m., Surry-Yadkin showed a little more than 4,300 customer outages spread across its five-county coverage area, with 348 of those outages in Surry County. The Surry outages had been near the 500-mark an hour earlier, while the largest portion of the outages for the company was in Yadkin County, with 2,664 customers without power.
Duke Energy reported 576 power outages in Surry County at the same time, again much lower than in some other regions. The firm had 11,000 outages in Boone, 9,000 in Stokes and Rockingham counties, and more than 52,000 customers without service in the greater Winston-Salem area.
Locally, both Surry County and Mount Airy schools made the decision not to hold in-person schooling today, with Surry County making Thursday a remote-learning day, while the city schools simply closed.
Surry County officials also closed Fisher River Park in Dobson around mid-morning, because of roadways and trails around the park being under water.
Shelton urged area residents to be cautious throughout the day as floodwaters continued rising.
“If you live in a low-lying area in the county, watch for the water taking on the residence, or your access — ingress or egress — from the residence,” he said. If it appears the water might reach the home, or cut off access, “Call 911 immediately and we’ll get crews out.”
He also warned drivers not to attempt crossing roads that are under water.
“There’s a lot of hydroplaning out there, causing accidents,” he said. “Do not attempt to cross roadways with water in them. It doesn’t take much fast-moving water to take your vehicle.”
Paylor, with the National Weather Service, said Zeta was still tropical storm strength when it hit Surry County, with maximum winds holding at 50 mph, with some gusts hitting 60 mph. He said the good news for the area is that the storm is moving unusually fast — moving northeast at 48 mph.
“That limits some of the impacts around the area,” he said.