People Forced to Evacuate in Pulaski Co. as River Floods

Pulaski Co., VA - It has been a very difficult time over the past 24 hours for folks living along the New River.

That river has swollen to levels many have never seen before, and there's a lot of people out of their homes Thursday evening because of it.

In the Hiwassee area, there are hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of property submerged in the icy river.

Rescue workers say that it's the same picture for miles along the river with significant issues being reported from Giles County all the way to the North Carolina border.

In nearby Carroll County, Appalachian Power crews can't even get to at least two dams across the river to remove flashboards that would ease the pressure.

It all forced officials in Pulaski County to order an evacuation for citizens living along the river.

The problem is so bad it also forced them to use the New River Trail to get to safety.

Rescue crews have been helping all day to get people out of the way of the flood waters that continued to rise through the day.

Waiting with a swift water rescue team from Salem, Hiwassee Volunteer Fire Chief Donald Boyd can only hope things get better, sooner than later.

"I was told the water would continue to rise most of the day," he said.

Which means he is banking on "later" before he finally gets a chance to rest.

"I've seen it do this before. Go down a little bit then it will come right back up because all this water comes from plum down in Boone, North Carolina and everywhere, so. I don't even know if it's all gotten here yet," said Boyd.

For miles along the New River, the image is the same: Dozens of homes and vacation spots flooded and roads impossible to use.

For Candi Hight and her kids, the only way out was using the New River Trail.

"My Dad just called. He works at VDOT. He called and told us to get out. They were evacuating everybody."

Her concern now is her friends' horse. Many animals were left behind in haste.

"My mom won't leave because of her horses."

"If they want to stay then they stay and we get their social security numbers and stuff and we'll identify them later if nothing else. That's how dangerous it is right now. It's really dangerous. A lot of trash running and it don't take much to take a house down," said Boyd.

While many lifelong residents of the area can remember worse flooding... it's been a very long time.

"1972, when Hurricane Agnes came through. Took the corner of the fence and the driveway just like this," said a resident.

"They are letting it out as fast as they can but the faster they let it out down there the faster it gets up here because they keep sucking it on through and they are flooding everything," said Boyd.

A quick look at the USGS data for that area shows some good news. The river in Pulaski County was hitting just over 19 feet a few hours ago, which is 3 feet above the official flood stage of 16 feet. That number has now dropped to 15 feet.