Chatham County community counts two weeks under water
Posted January 8, 2016
Chapel Hill, N.C. — The water in nearby Jordan Lake began rising around Christmas Day. Since then, residents of a low-lying stretch of Jeremiah Drive have needed a boat to reach their homes. With the lake level about 14 feet above normal, water stands 3 feet deep outside about a dozen homes while residents bide their time in hotels on the other side.
Chatham County and the Red Cross have worked together to provide hotel rooms for the residents.
"Basically, me and my neighbor, Tony, have been paddling in and out for grocery shopping," Maja Kricker said.
Kricker's car is parked at her house, surrounded by water. She and her neighbor share a car that's safe on dry land.
It's been more than two weeks of paddling through the winter woods for Isaiah Morrow.
"This here is getting my beach body right," Morrow said of the paddling he must do.
But he worries about less-fit neighbors.
"We have some neighbors who actually have medical issues, and so if anything were to actually occur, then it would be very difficult for the emergency crew to come out here," he said.
The houses stand on higher ground, elevated from the over-washed road. His interior is dry, but Morrow hasn't slept at home for days.
"It’s not ideal having to live out of a suitcase," he said. "After two weeks or so, you’re gonna need new clothes and things like that."
In eight years on Jeremiah Drive, he's never seen the water this deep for this long.
"We either need the road raised or a bridge put in or something to help us out here," Morrow said.
Raising the road is on the project list, according to Dan LaMontagne, assistant county manager and public works director, but local planners have not been able to secure the funds. "We certainly want to look for some solutions for them in the future," he said.
He said the area where the road floods is on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers land.
Until that time, Morrow wonders whether the Jordan Lake dam could release more water to reduce the lake level. Dana Matics, of the Army Corps of Engineers, said the corps is releasing as much water as possible without sending the flooding threat downstream.