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(CNN) -- Massive flash flooding Friday killed one person and forced the rescuing of trapped motorists and the evacuation of at least two neighborhoods in Charlotte, North Carolina, authorities said.
Charlotte received 3 inches of rain, with more in some places, said city fire department spokesman Capt. Robert Brisley. The department was evacuating two neighborhoods next to flooded creeks near downtown, he said.
Authorities received a call Friday afternoon about people being in McMullen Creek, which is swollen because of the rains, Brisley said. One person was able to climb out, one died and another is still missing, he said.
It was not immediately clear why the people were in the creek, nor how the one person died, though Brisley said the death was flood related.
Authorities and responders were carrying out at least 16 rescues of people trapped in flooded vehicles, Brisley said.
The city was under a flash-flood watch.
Rain began to fall about lunchtime, with one gauge registering about 5 to 6 inches about mid-afternoon, said Jennifer Frost, spokeswoman for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services.
In her nine years of working in the area, Frost said, she "never seen anything like this before."
"It came down very fast," she added. "It got so dark downtown, it looked like night."
Parts of Interstate highways 77, 485 and 85 were flooded and temporarily shut down during the storm, she said.
One hotel lobby interior was turned into a waterfall as heavy rain accumulated on the roof and poured through light fixtures, collapsing a desktop-size section of the ceiling, according to one hotel visitor who shared his video of the spectacle with CNN.
CNN's Dave Alsup, Joe Sutton and Michael Martinez contributed to this report.