Residents Question Duke Energy’s Preparation for Weekend Rain

CHARLOTTE, NC – People in Northwest Charlotte were cleaning up their homes on Wednesday after devastating floods over the weekend. The historic water release from Lake Norman left more than 100 properties damaged in the Mountain Island Lake area.

“It was rushing, like swish swish,” described Linda Brown.

She’s lived on Riverside Drive for more than 20 years. She has spent the last few days without electricity. Water filled her living room on Sunday.

“There is a lot worse. We’re lucky,” said Brown.

Her home and 106 others were damaged when heavy rains this weekend led to flooding around Brown’s neighborhood. Code Enforcement estimates the damage at $3.3 million.

“It’s really frustrating that this is happening over and over again and we keep going in these circles,” said Sam Perkins.

Perkins is the former Catawba River Keeper. He says Duke Energy should have taken more precautions to avoid the devastation for so many.

“Why wasn’t more water passed through the system to create capacity before that water flowed in,” questioned Perkins.

“This was an unmanageable volume of water that came in right there,” said Jeff Lineberger, the Director of Water Strategy and Hydro Relicensing for Duke Energy.

He says their internal forecasts called for half the amount of rainfall over twice as many days.

“12 inches here,” said Lineberger pointing to Hickory on a map. “This whole area and the drainage areas here were in the 8-inch range,” said Lineberger pointing to Lake James.

People on Riverside were also caught off guard. They say they were prepared for water to flood their yards, but instead, there was a historic release of water from Lake Norman that flooded homes and sunk cars.

Lineberger says his team managed the storm as best they could with the information they had.

“We could not have lowered Lake Norman low enough to absorb all this flow, so, Lake Norman was not the silver bullet solution,” said Lineberger.

He says Duke Energy is evaluating its response and communication with people who are impacted.

Duke launched a new app called Lake View, which allows people to get real-time information about lake levels and releases. Lineberger says they plan to release an update in the near future that would include alerts and notifications that can be sent directly to people’s phones.

Meanwhile, on Riverside Drive, dozens of families are cleaning up. Brown doing her best to stay positive.,

“I’m looking forward to the hot shower,” said Brown with a smile.