Image: Flooded area of Charlotte
John D. Simmons  /  The Charlotte Observer via AP
Residents watch as rescuers prepare to reach people in apartments cut off by floodwaters in Charlotte, N.C., on Friday.
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 8/5/2011 8:00:05 PM ET 2011-08-06T00:00:05

A woman died and a second was presumed dead as they fled police and ran into a raging stream that was among several flooding across this city when a powerful storm system blew through.

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The women were suspected of shoplifting, NBC affiliate WCNC TV reported. A third suspect was arrested at the store where the shoplifting occurred.

43-year-old Gracie Nell Johnson was found in the swollen stream Friday afternoon. Another woman who ran with her was missing.

In other parts of the city, firefighters rescued stranded motorists and evacuated a few neighborhoods.

Charlotte fire department spokesman Capt. Rob Brisley said rescuers helped more than a dozen motorists stranded in cars because of high water. They also evacuated people from two neighborhoods when creeks spilled over their banks.

The flash flooding was trigged by heavy showers and thunderstorms, and as much as 6 inches of rain fell in a few hours in some areas.

Brisley said many of the rescues were necessary because motorists were making poor decisions like trying to drive through high water on city streets instead of turning around.

At the Embassy Suites, a drain pipe that carries water from the roof burst. That sent water streaming into the hotel lobby, but the hotel remained in open.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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