Yadkin’s Worst Floods Nothing Like Houston’s

Published 9:55 am Thursday, August 31, 2017

What would 50 inches of rain do to the Yadkin River?

I eyed with some suspicion the gentle, gurgling creek 300 yards down the hill from our house on Monday. It seemed so peaceful … and harmless.

The Noah-volume of rainfall in Houston, Tex., this week is a reminder of what can happen when a slow-moving rogue hurricane dumps record rain.

Our area’s worst experience dates back to 1916 when the upstream North Carolina mountains received up to 22 inches of rain during back-to-back July hurricanes that came ashore and dumped their rain. The flood set high water marks in Asheville. It rained for six days, and that was followed by yet another hurricane remnant that had made landfall at Charleston, S.C., and worked its way to the already saturated mountains. Roads and rails were washed away. Mud slides destroyed homes.

The Yadkin was hit by another flood in August 1940 as a hurricane’s remnants dumped 10 inches of rain upsteam. Residents gathered on the banks of the Yadkin to see if the old steel girder U.S. 158 bridge would collapse. The Yadkin crested at 33.75 feet at the Yadkin College station at the U.S. 64 bridge.

In neither flood did the rainfall come close to the torrents that have hit Houston and the Texas gulf coast — enough to float an ark.

The news films from Houston are difficult to watch.

Meanwhile, I can’t help but calculate how many feet my neighborhood creek would have to rise before it reaches me.

The Houston flooding gives a whole new meaning to the wisdom of building your house on a hill.

• • • • •

The school bus honked from the street Monday morning, but not for one of mine. I’m out of the school business for the first time in 31 years.

We had nobody to hustle out the door. No peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to make. No homework reminders. And, best of all, none of those annoying automated phone calls from the school interrupting supper every evening.

My oldest started school in 1986. My youngest finished last spring. Thank you, taxpayers. Now it’s my turn to pay for others. It’s also my turn to get more sleep.

I didn’t set the alarm on the first day of school. I’m going to enjoy my new status.

• • • • •

Having toured the new Davie High School, Jane Simpson of the Davie Foundation wondered if last year’s seniors wouldn’t want to spend one more year at Dear Old Davie to experience the newness. Being the parent of one of last year’s graduates, I assured her that the Class of 2017 is not clamoring to repeat their senior year. Once was enough.

The funniest remarks I’ve heard about the new school are by those enamoured with the coffee shop in the classroom building. That’s probably the least expensive item, and how many students drink coffee? The complaint most often repeated by parents is about the stairs. Our teenagers should be able to handle them.

— Dwight Sparks