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Flood cleanup underway in Cramerton

Feb 20, 2020 11:31AM

This boat came to rest behind the Cramerton fire department during the recent flood. Photo by Alan Hodge

By Alan Hodge

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The major flooding event a couple of weeks ago on the South Fork River left a mess in its wake and crews from local municipalities are still coping with the cleanup.

Cramerton was hit especially hard by the flooding caused by the five inches of rain that fell on February 6- the most rain in one day in February in our area in 142 years. South Fork flood levels approached 16 feet- possibly the fifth highest South Fork flood ever recorded. 

All that muddy water rushing along brought with it countless tons of sediment. Areas along the banks of the South Fork that were once lawns and forest floor currently have so much sand on them they resemble a seaside beach.

Goat Island Park in Cramerton got more than its share of silt. Basically, the entire park is blanketed with the stuff. Several roads in Cramerton got silted as well including Riverside Dr., Cramer Mtn. Rd., Mayflower Ave., and 8th Ave.

No sooner had the rain stopped and the water began to slowly recede, municipal workers in the areas hit by the flood went to work cleaning up the mess.

In Cramerton, the Monday following the flood (February 10), saw two City of Gastonia trucks, one a street sweeper and the other a water tanker, cleaning silt and mud from Riverside Dr. and other streets. Cramerton sent some of its workers to McAdenville to help out there.

Cramerton town manager David Pugh described the team effort.

“There has been a lot of mutual help between the county and the towns that were flooded,” Pugh said. “Public works has done a great job opening the roads back up. Most were cleared in 24 hours.”

Cramerton’s biggest challenge in the wake of the flood is proving to be the Goat Island Park and Greenway situation. Cramerton Parks and Rec. director Eric Smallwood talked about what’s going on regarding cleanup.

“The problem with the parks is we have to wait for the ground to dry out,” Smallwood said. “It’s still so soupy that mud on the greenway runs back on as soon as its removed. If we can start working it will take at least two weeks to clean up.”

Mud and silt are not the only flood cleanup challenges in Cramerton and McAdenville. Large tree limbs and trash that the water carried downstream are widespread. Perhaps the most remarkable flood object is a large boat upside down  on the shore behind the Cramertom fire department. Pugh says it belongs to a contractor that was doing work for the city.

“They could not get here in time to get it before the flood,” he said.

Overall, the flood cleanup is a work in progress and still weather dependent. Last week, it rained again, with a heavy downpour on Thursday. 

“It’s a developing situation,” Pugh said.