Rescuers had to free a woman from her car that was stranded in flood waters early Thursday morning.
Salem Fire Assistant Chief Charles Autrey told The News Herald that the woman couldn’t see the water covering the road on her way to work.
“About 6 a.m. we were dispatched to a water rescue, a swift water rescue,” Autrey said. “A car had been washed off the roadway on Propst Road. The creek had come up over the road and the driver didn’t see it and drove into it and their car was washed off the roadway.”
The woman was on the phone with a 911 operator throughout the terrifying event.
"I don't know what happened," she told the operator. "The water just took me ... I didn't even see the water. I didn't even see it in the road ... it's almost over my hood and I have my head sticking out the window."
The rescue was one of five that Burke County Swift Water teams were called to Thursday after heavy rains drenched the county, said Chris White, a Burke County 911 supervisor.
The rain sparked a mudslide, flooding and a state of emergency in Burke County. Several rain stations around the county recorded more than 6 inches of rain dumped during the storm.
The heavy rains had already caused multiple roads to be shut down and even a mudslide on Mineral Springs Mountain Road.
Emergency officials warned drivers to never cross flooded roads. Just because there are no road blocks in place on a water-covered road, it does not mean it is safe to cross, officials said.
“Do not, do not under any circumstances, cross through or attempt to cross a flooded roadway,” said 1st Sgt. C.M. Tedder with the North Carolina State Highway Patrol.
Autrey said that while the woman rescued early this morning had accidentally driven into the flood waters, some drivers will ignore road blocks and drive through flooded roads anyway, putting themselves and rescuers in danger.
“We’ve been in situations where people actually drove around fire trucks that were blocking roadways where the water was over a bridge,” Autrey said.
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