Chapel Hill residents told to be careful as flooding cleanup continues
Posted July 3, 2013
Chapel Hill, N.C. — State and local damage assessment teams will continue to visit parts of Chapel Hill on Wednesday to determine if the areas hit hardest by Sunday's flooding qualify for disaster recovery assistance.
Orange County officials declared a state of emergency Tuesday after making rounds in the neighborhoods inundated by rain. A total of 4.66 inches of rain fell in the area from Sunday to Monday.
"We've had teams of inspectors out assessing areas for public safety," said Lance Norris, the town's Public Works director. "We have teams out continuing that process. We also have staff out in our public areas assessing our infrastructure. As these areas start the rebuilding process, we'll be working with them to facilitate that."
Sixty-eight units in the Camelot Village Condominiums complex, on South Estes Drive, and another 22 units in the Booker Creek Townhome Apartments complex, on Booker Creek Drive, have been condemned because of damage. Officials found another 51 units in the Brookwood Condominiums complex, also on Estes Drive, that were damaged by water.
Jeff Lindberg returned from vacation Monday to find the floor of his Camelot Village apartment covered in mud.
I didn't have any insurance on it, so it's all a complete loss," he said.
Lindberg said many of his neighbors lost most of their possessions. "It's heartbreaking," he said.
Cleanup crews worked Wednesday to remove about 4 feet of sheet rock from the walls of several apartments in Camelot Village.
Tuesday's emergency declaration coordinates local efforts to respond to the flooding, from providing public health nurses and social workers to assist at a local Red Cross shelter to taking in the pets of displaced residents.
Nineteen people displaced by the floodwater stayed at Smith Middle School on Tuesday, Orange County Emergency Services Coordinator Jim Groves said. The school has served as the shelter since Sunday and will continue to do so until it is no longer needed, town officials said. People wanting to assist those in need because of flood damage should call the Orange County Social Services at 919-245-2800.
As crews and residents continue the assessment and cleanup process, town officials on Wednesday were also quick to warn about potential problems moving forward.
"As residents strive to get back to some normalcy, they become vulnerable to predatory contractors," Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue said. "We want people to be thoughtful about the people they bring into their homes. Contractors will come and knock on doors sooner than any of us are ready."
Fire chief Dan Jones also reminded residents to stay clear of standing water.
"People see water and they think it's pretty safe to enter. Flood water contains a lot of debris, it contains contaminants. It's not safe to be in," Jones said. "Moving water as low as 6 inches deep can move cars and sweep people off of their feet. You shouldn't drive your car through water that is more than 1 foot deep."
Jones also warned of other implications from Sunday's flooding, including an increase in mosquitoes that will come with areas of standing water.
"I've been here for 23 years and I've seen water in the last few days where I've never seen water before," Jones said. "Take the necessary steps to prevent bites. Think about children playing where there may be standing water."