Rain that soaked North Carolina caused floods in the mountains and forced communities along waterways in the Piedmont to brace for the chance the channels would spread.

Rain was expected to continue drenching all of North Carolina on Tuesday, while forecasters kept a wary eye on a system south of Cape Fear that had the potential to develop swiftly into a tropical storm.

Flood watches remained in effect Tuesday morning for all but a handful of North Carolina counties, with the possibility of isolated tornadoes in the coastal plain during the afternoon.

On Monday, heavy rain battered mountain communities southeast of Asheville.

The 2-foot-deep creek that normally falls behind Kathy Morgan's home in the Henderson County community of Bat Cave was rushing over its banks in 8-foot waves Monday. There were no reports of serious injuries.

"Those are boulders getting rolled by the river," Morgan said as she listened to the noise rise from the brown torrent that hours earlier was Hickory Creek.

The high water forced more than 200 people to evacuate homes and campgrounds in the Hickory Nut Gorge area southeast of Asheville. Three people were rescued when their car hydroplaned into the Broad River near Bat Cave.

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The National Hurricane Center was tracking a stormy area about 140 miles south of Cape Fear that it said could develop into a tropical depression at any time Tuesday.

The system was moving north-northeast at about 15-20 mph.

Forecasters warned coastal residents to keep an eye on weather reports, because tropical storm warnings could be issued quickly. The center said, even if the system didn't reach tropical strength, it would bring heavy rain and high wind to the North Carolina shore through the day and into Tuesday night.

It's been a record-breaking rain for June in the Triangle. Readings at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport showed June has had 9.87 inches of rain -- more than 7 inches from Tropical Storm Alberto on June 14.

Strong surf resulting from the storms churned up killer rip currents along the state's coast. Rescuers pulled dozens of beachgoers out of the water over the weekend -- including more than 40 people on Wrightsville Beach alone.

Forecasters say dangerous swimming conditions will continue through Thursday, caused by strong thunderstorms off the southeastern U.S. coast.

In western Henderson County, Mack Williams surveyed the damage left by receding waters from a tributary of the Rocky Broad River. The porch of his log home was crushed in places and covered with debris. The creek had also taken chunks of his yard and toppled the power pole.

"The last time it came over like this was two years ago," he said. "It did $17,000 in damage."

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