High waters send dangerous debris into Lake Wylie

adouglas@heraldonline.comJuly 30, 2013 

  • More information

    “I suggest limiting boating for the next few days until the debris dissipates,” said Sgt. Brent Mabry with the York County Sheriff’s Office lake enforcement. “It’s not safe.”

    Safety issues include logs and branches and loose structures and watercraft, according to Duke Energy, which manages the lakes along the Catawba River.

    Mabry, who has been with the sheriff’s office for 10 years, said he has never seen so much debris in the water.

    “We’re catching all the debris from flooding upstream in Lincoln and Gaston counties” in North Carolina, he said. “We’re not sure how much is coming, but we’ll get more before it’s over.”

    Michael Bradford has been boating on Lake Wylie for more than a decade, and he has never seen anything like Monday’s debris clusters.

    The lake looked “like whole yards out there,” he said.

    In addition to larger debris, sticks and grasses also flow downstream, forming small “islands.”

    There are no organizations that clean up such an incident on the lake, Mabry said, although lake enforcement officers try to pull out hazardous materials when possible.

    Duke Energy plans to secure and remove large floating hazards to navigation, such as loose docks, piers or watercraft.

  • More information

    In Sharon, the state Department of Transportation plans to replace a bridge on Burris Road over Turkey Creek which was washed away Monday morning.

    The bridge and sections of the road already had been closed and detours have been in place for a few weeks because officials expected the bridge to give way to recent water levels in the creek.

    At Rock Hill’s River Park, pedestrian bridges on trails were still intact but covered with waist-high water as the Catawba River swelled over the weekend and water levels surged.

    C.C. Williams, the city’s outdoor recreation coordinator, expects normal activities in and around the river to begin again in a few weeks.

    Water levels are measured in cubic feet per second.

    The Catawba River’s level fluctuates daily, Williams said, with a “low” level being 1,000 to 3,500 cubic feet.

    Recent rainfall caused river levels to change dramatically in just a few hours, he said, surging at times to 10,000 cubic feet.

    “If you stay upright (in a tube or boat), everything’s OK,” he said. “But things happen quickly.”

    Anyone on the river should wear a life jacket and carry a whistle, he said.

    Even people with years of experience in kayaking could find current water conditions perilous, Williams said, adding, “it’s not a question of if you’re going to swim, but when.”

— Heavy rain in Charlotte over the weekend has led to swollen waterways in York County, dumping a large amount of debris in Lake Wylie.

Boaters have been warned to stay off the lake as large amounts of debris, swept from shorelines by high waters, float downstream from the South Fork River.

Excess water on the Catawba River also prompted Rock Hill officials to close River Park on Monday after trails, picnic areas and a kayak launch point were flooded overnight.

Not far from the flooded park, the Rock Hill Rescue Squad pulled five people from the Catawba River late Sunday night after a water release to control flooding on Lake Wylie caused the river’s waters to rise.

Five 18-year-olds who were camping on an island in the river just north of the Interstate 77 bridge were rescued, said Rock Hill Fire Department Battalion Chief Rusty Myers.

They were on the island just after 11 p.m. when they noticed water rising around them and called home for help, he said. Their families called 911 and emergency officials – including rescue squad members and fire personnel – rushed to the scene.

The river rescue is just another reminder that higher-than-normal water levels can be dangerous, Myers said, causing the Catawba and other river systems to move more swiftly than usual.

The State is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service