SWAIN COUNTY, N.C. (WSPA) – A western North Carolina highway is closed and some vehicles are stranded Saturday night into Sunday due to four separate mudslides caused by heavy rains, Saturday evening.
U.S. 19/74 in Swain County is closed in both directions through the Nantahala Gorge, according to the North Carolina Department of Transportation.
Almost three inches of rain caused four mudslides in a five-mile stretch between Hewitts Road and the Nantahala Outdoor Center.
Crews are working to clear enough space for the stranded vehicles to get out of the gorge area.
“This is unprecedented in the Nantahala Gorge,” Division 14 Engineer Brian Burch said. “We have engineers on site, equipment on site, and crews on site working with state highway patrol and local responders to help get people out as quickly and safely as possible tonight.”
NCDOT crews from Cherokee and Graham Counties are working to remove debris from the western end of the gorge while crews from Swain and Jackson Counties work on the eastern end.
The road will not open until at least Sunday as crews will have to wait until daylight to gauge the severity of the slides.
Detours have been set up to bypass the slides:
Westbound traffic will take NC-28 west to Steccoah then NC-143 south to Robbinsville, then NC-129 south to Topton and US-19/74.
Eastbound traffic will take the detour in reverse.
According to the NCDOT, the road was closed shortly before 7:30 p.m. and is not expected to reopen until Monday.