The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

July 8, 2013

Caught up in this crazy weather

By Jason O'Boyd, Staff Writer

Monday, July 8, 2013 — Wow, what a crazy week it’s been.

Between all the rain, more rain, even more rain and then a break of sorts with the Fourth of July festivities, it’s been an active week for everyone involved. Myself included.

Thursday was a good chance to take a break from reality in addition to celebrating our country’s birth. And speaking of weather, so many of the people in Albemarle and around here have been touched in one way or another by not only the storm that rolled through here on June 13 but by all the rain we’ve had lately.

If Noah himself were hanging around here these days, no doubt he’d be busy with the task of building a second ark.

I’ve seen trees downed, homes split in half and lives affected in one way or another by what’s happened here. The stories people have told me have certainly given me a reason to pause. And while my wife and I were very lucky to only have a few limbs to pick up from the June 13 storm, I can’t say I escaped all the calamity.

The heavy rain we had last Friday night and into Saturday morning caused a lot of localized flooding that extended into western Stanly County and eastern Cabarrus County. That’s where, specifically just outside Midland, I had a scare I’ll never forget.

I ended up putting my car through another bout of trauma when I ran into some flood waters on the way home. I was detoured from my normal route home and ran into an unexpected overflowing creek while trying to find a new way.

This is the same car I wrote about not too long ago where a deer decided to use it as either a way to end its life or just to complicate mine. (I never found out if that deer died.) It’s the car my wife and I rode off into the sunset after we were married in June 2011. It’s the same car that helped me move from Charlotte to Albemarle after I got married. And it’s the same car that’s taken me to and from Charlotte six days a week for my other job and church.

I was coming home around 3:30 that Saturday morning. I had been working in Charlotte and knew it had rained a lot. All the alerts on my cell phone more than told me that. But I didn’t know about all the flooding that had gone on.

But I soon found out.

Midland was in the dark because the power was out everywhere. I learned later a tree fell on a bunch of power lines on N.C. 24/27 between Midland and Locust. A fire truck blocked my way home and forced me to find a different direction.

All I know about driving through Midland is to take that same 24/27 route home and to work. I have never even tried to take another way. So there I was with no idea how I’d make it back to Albemarle.

I did have a GPS and tried for several minutes to find an alternate route. But the GPS kept trying to take me back to my familiar way home. Then, by driving up U.S. 601 toward Concord, I got a break by going down a side road that would take me to Mt. Pleasant Road.

As I was driving down Mt. Pleasant Road, less than a mile, I saw a stop sign and an intersection that would take me to N.C. 200. That would lead me to the other side of Locust and certainly take me the rest of the way home.

Then I came across a frightening experience. I plowed my car, going about 35 miles an hour, into a flooded road. There was water everywhere, and I was not able to see it all in time before I hit it with my car. It was a little foggy and misty at the same time, which didn’t help matters.

I immediately started to panic, threw the car in reverse and hauled butt out of the water as fast as I could. I felt like I drove forever, but I did make it out and away from where the waters were.

It must have been four feet worth of water, maybe more. I saw the tops of a couple of mailboxes sticking out. I also noticed my front bumper basically hanging by a thread off the car. My vehicle was smoking and water was pouring from underneath.

Suddenly, my plans took an immediate detour.

I’ve never had something this severe happen to me before. I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to do. Could I drive the car? Should I call the cops? Was I stuck there and would I ever make it home?

I called 9-1-1 and a state trooper made it to my location about an hour later. My insurance lined up a tow truck from Matthews, of all places, to come to my aid also.

Along the way, I stopped four other vehicles that came up on me and the flood waters. They were all in the same boat, figuratively not literally, as I was — trying to find a way to get home.

An 18-wheeler even came up on us at one point from the other side. He simply drove through the water, which came up nearly to the top of his engine, and continued trucking to his destination.

Thanks, whoever you were!

After answering the questions from the trooper, I had my car loaded up on the tow truck. I thought for sure the driver was going to leave me there. But after some encouraging, I was invited to ride with him as he headed back to Matthews.

Let’s see ... be stuck in the middle of nowhere with no transportation and no way to reach my wife or anyone else as it rained and the flood waters rolled around me ... or go the other direction to seek help. Yeah ... not a hard choice.

As we rode toward Matthews, I saw all the flooding that had taken place. It’s amazing how just a couple of hours worth of rain could do so much damage. I was in awe as I watched the sun rise over the flooded areas as we drove through them.

I was eventually dropped off at a gas station where I later got up with my father-in-law. He was able to reach my wife. I was picked up and we made it home around 9 a.m.

I knew as we walked toward the house, I would have a lot of calls to make. I didn’t know the state of my car or whether I’d even be able to drive it again. I had to call and make an insurance claim and line up a rental car to use.

When we got into the house, my wife gave me a big hug. That made me feel so much better and calmed my nerves a great deal.

It also made me realize that as much as I love my car and all the adventures we’ve been through — both good and bad — it was material to what was waiting for me.

And speaking of waiting, I learned on Friday my car could be fixed without costing too much, which was great news.

Hopefully I’ll get it back soon so I can find something else to hit in the future.

To submit story ideas, contact Jason O. Boyd at (704) 982-2121 ext. 28 or email at