The heavy rains had stopped, at least for the time being in North Carolina, but Gov. Roy Cooper said several other dams could be in danger as rivers continued to rise. He sent a special team of state inspectors to check on at least four of them.
The inspections came after about 2,000 people were evacuated for several hours after emergency managers said the Lake Tahoma dam was in danger of “imminent failure” early Wednesday. Heavy rain triggered landslides at the dam and along Interstate 40, which was closed near Asheville.
Engineers inspected the dam further in daylight and McDowell County officials announced in a public alert just after 10 a.m. Wednesday the dam was safe and people could return to their homes.
Cooper declared a state of emergency in western North Carolina as foretasted heavy storms for much of the rest of the week could quickly bring the flooding and mudslides back.
“This storm isn’t yet over. I’m urging people to keep a close eye on forecasts and flood watches, and asking drivers to use caution especially when traveling in our western counties,” Cooper said in a statement.
Some areas of the North Carolina mountains have received up to 20 inches (51 centimeters) of rain in the past 15 days.
A town in northern Georgia was also dealing with flooding.
Up to 7 inches (18 centimeters) of rain caused flooding to creeks and rivers in the city of Helen, Georgia, around 10 a.m. Wednesday, the National Weather Service said. Atlanta station WAGA-TV reported that several roads near the downtown area were shut down because of the rising water, which is about knee high. No injuries or structural damage have been reported.
The center of a depression that had been Alberto was about 400 miles (640 kilometers) west near Hopkinsville, Kentucky, where Sherry Key had a fitful night of sleep because of high winds and heavy rains.
“I have dogs and they’re terribly afraid of storms, so they were on top on top me all night,” said Key, an airport office manager.
Radar showed rain extended as far south as the Gulf Coast, where the storm came ashore at the Florida Panhandle on Monday, to the Great Lakes region.
Forecasters warned the leftovers of the Atlantic hurricane season’s first named storm were still capable of causing treacherous flooding as heavy precipitation spreads deeper into the nation’s midsection. Flash flood watches and warnings were in effect for parts of several states from Alabama through Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, the Carolinas and Virginia and West Virginia.
In the mountains of western North Carolina, McDowell County Emergency Management deputy director Adrienne Jones said about 200 residents spent the night in three shelters, set up in Marion, Old Fort and Glenwood. She said five minor injuries have been reported during water rescues as creeks and streams overflowed their banks and rock slides closed roads.
Five vehicles were caught in mud on Interstate 40 Tuesday night, but no one was hurt. The main east-west route through North Carolina was closed for several hours, Gov. Cooper said.
Two Department of Transportation workers also survived a close call when their dump truck was swept away by a mudslide in McDowell County while trying to clean debris from an earlier slide. The men were able to climb from the overturned truck and stand on its side in the Catawba River until they were rescued, the governor said.
Authorities in Cuba say Alberto left four people dead there as the storm drenched the island in heavy rain. Interior Minister Julio Cesar Gandarilla said late Tuesday they died as a result of “recklessness” during the storm. He gave no details. The deaths occurred as authorities worked to contain an oil spill in central Cuba’s Cienfuegos Bay that followed the flooding of nearby oil refinery.
The big, messy storm caused more than 25,000 power outages in Alabama, many of which were caused by trees rooted in soggy soil falling across utility lines.
“We’ve had a lot of rain, but we got lucky. It was a constant rain but not a heavy rain,” said Regina Myers, emergency management director in Walker County northwest of Birmingham.
Alberto was more of a rainstorm than a wind threat, but the National Weather Service said at least one tornado had been confirmed.
The weather service said its meteorologists confirmed a weak tornado with maximum winds of 85 mph (147 kph) hit an area around Cameron, South Carolina, on Monday afternoon. No one was hurt.