STEELE CREEK — Near flood levels on Lake Wylie this month left behind quite a mess.
Mike and Brenda Peters live in Steele Creek on Lake Wylie, near The Palisades. They’ve been involved with Lake Wylie Covekeepers, so they know a problem on the lake when they see one. When heavy rains poured on the Catawba River basin the first week of May, they saw one.
“Looks like we might need a special Riversweep to clean this up,” Brenda Peters said. “The wind has pushed it into the coves, and it is smelly, nasty, trash, debris and log-jammed, not to mention a dangerous, hazardous mess.”
Logs lifted by high water and left in coves once the rain stopped are of particular concern.
“It will ruin a lot of boat motors and may sink a few if they hit the logs just right,” Peters said.
Carol Butler lives in Lake Wylie on a cove where, even without high water levels, large trees, tires and other debris constantly wash up. She was still sawing downed trees from an event two years ago when recent rains hit. Now she may need to host a “chainsaw party.”
“This particular [rain] brought an unusual amount of trees and large wood into the yard,” Butler said. “It’s always ugly. I’d just spent two months pulling wood and trash from the water and we’d managed to burn one small pile.”
In addition to the hassle, Butler is concerned about lingering danger with the water receded.
“It’s unsafe because the logs trap more logs, which entice snakes and builds up the trash as a backup,” she said. “We can’t walk through the muck to reach the trash and then we have a budding pollution problem.”
Cotton Howell, director of the York County Office of Emergency Management, said residents need to careful during severe weather.
“We have a treasure of water resources in York County with our lakes, rivers and streams,” he said. “Being responsible users of these resources will make them safer.”
Lake management and county experts say Lake Wylie and other lakes along the Catawba with dam control and drought monitoring are pretty much insulated from flooding, unlike the rivers or streams leading into them.
Lake Wylie has been at or above its target level every day since Christmas. There have been 12 days – including most recently April 29-30 and May 6-9 – where the lake has been within 1 percent of full pond, defined by Duke Energy as “the point at which the water begins to spill over the flood gate or spillway.”
Lakes James, Rhodhiss, Hickory and Wateree, as well as Mountain Island and Lookout Shoals Lake, all topped their full ponds along the Catawba this month. Lake Norman came within .1 percent of its fill line, Lake Wylie .2 percent.
Howell hopes the May rains will serve as a reminder to be careful when severe weather comes.
“The main thing is to be cautious and not take unnecessary risk,” Howell said. “Water is like a magnet drawing us to look at it, get close to it and even get in it. We are responsible for ourselves, or families and others.”
Cotton Howell, director of the York County Office of Emergency Management, says the main areas of concern during heavy rains are: