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Waterlogged Sandhills brace for more rain

There were more than 20 water rescues in Cumberland County Thursday as flood waters inundated homes and washed cars off roads.

On Thursday afternoon, Cumberland County Schools announced schools will be closed Friday for students. All athletic activities and other after-school activities for Friday have been canceled, including high school football games.

It will be an optional teacher workday.

We’re not out of the woods yet. ABC11 is in First Alert Mode as more rain is expected in central North Carolina.

A flash flood watch has been issued for Cumberland, Hoke and Harnett counties until Thursday evening.

Click here for First Alert Doppler XP
Click here to download the ABC11 First Alert Weather app.

Fayetteville Mayor Nat Robertson has declared a state of emergency. At a news conference Thursday afternoon, he urged residents to be careful if they have to travel.

WATCH: Chris Hohmann says Sandhills likely to see more rain tonight

“Know before you go,” he said “Don’t drive into standing water.”

Authorities released a 911 call from a man who said he didn’t see water and drove into it at Ames St. and Bragg Blvd. He said he couldn’t swim and was trying not to panic as the water reached the top of his doors.

Many roads in the area are flooded. Interstate 95 southbound was down to one lane at Mile Marker 43.

Cumberland County Emergency Services Director Randy Beeman said the DOT was checking bridges and several dams that are at flood level and near topping are being monitored.

Shelters have been set up at the Spring Lake Parks and Recreation building and at the Smith Center near Fayetteville State.

Cumberland, Fort Bragg, and Hoke County Schools closed Thursday because of the flooding Harnett and Moore County Schools were on a two-hour delay.

Click here for more closings and delays information

ABC11 Meteorologist Don “Big Weather” Schwenneker says ABC11’s First Alert Doppler XP estimates there has over 10 inches of rain in some parts of northern Cumberland County and over 9 inches in Moore County alone.

Manchester at Raefordvass roads near the Sicily Drop Zone on Fort Bragg is closed due to a large sink hole at Jumping Run Creek.

W. Manchester Road and NC24/NC87 in Spring Lake is also closed due to rising floodwaters along the Lower Little River bridge. Officials say the river is approaching “Major” flood stage, which is 27 feet. The National Weather Service expects the water level to rise to 31+ feet.

Also in Spring Lake, police told ABC11 they are had to evacuate homes along Vass Road due to high water.

Rising waters will continue to be a concern throughout the day as the lingering storm system could produce more showers and thunderstorms through Friday.

“Some of the shower and thunderstorm activity has the potential to bring heavy rain, damaging winds gusts and hail,” Schwenneker said.

The SPC has again put us in a marginal risk for severe weather.

The storm system has brought lightning, thunder, large hail and torrential rains to most parts of the ABC11 viewing area since Wednesday afternoon.

Fayetteville has especially been affected by heavy rain, with the Fayetteville Fire and Emergency Management Department responding to multiple reports of flooding overnight and requests for assistance throughout the city because of the strong storms that have passed through the area.

Early Thursday morning, rescuers had to help a family and a small child from a flooded home on Gurley Street, just south of downtown Fayetteville.

WATCH: Flooding causes major problems in Fayetteville area

Wednesday night on Wayland Drive, near S. Reilly Road, six people were rescued by firefighters from a group home that was being threatened by rising waters.

Several other residents in that neighborhood were also helped to safety.

Several vehicles were stranded because of high water at the intersection of Santa Fe Drive and Carson Drive in Fayetteville, and two people had to be helped from their flooded vehicle by the fire department.

Another driver was rescued from a flooded vehicle in the vicinity of Cliffdale Road and Regency Drive.

Remember, never try to drive through a flooded roadway.

WATCH: Chris Hohmann explains “Turn Around, Don’t Drown”

In addition to the water rescue responses, the fire department has responded to multiple fire alarm activations and witnessed lightning strikes throughout the city. Multiple roads throughout the Fayetteville continue to be flooded.

Drivers are urged to practice extreme caution and not to travel down or through any roads or intersections that appear to be covered with water.

An ABC11 Eyewitness reported hail falling in Cary, and golf-ball-sized hail was reported in Person County. Hail was also reported near Dunn, in Harnett County.

WATCH: Storm brings power outages, hail to region”

The severe storms brought reports of power outages.

In Durham, an estimated 6,000 customers were without power Wednesday afternoon. Large sections of east Durham were left in the dark.

Our weather should improve for the weekend with cool, clear skies by Saturday.

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