Falls Lake water release floods Raleigh neighborhoods

Posted May 7
Updated May 8

— Residents along the Neuse River, who have seen the water rise without receding over the past few weeks, are worrying about what’s in store for the week ahead.

Residents in the River Bend neighborhood are still dealing with flooding as streets remain underwater.

A similar situation exists a few miles away in the River Landing neighborhood, where backyards are flooded.

The flooding is the result of an effort by the Army Corps of Engineers to lower Falls Lake after rain raised water levels by more than 10 feet. Last week, water was being released at about 3,000 cubic feet per second and was later increased to about 6,000 cubic feet per second.

At the peak of the release, water was being released at a rate of 44,000 gallons per second.

The water is not life-threatening, but it's an inconvenience for nearby residents.

"Our entire backyard is flooded. Our crawl space is flooded, but that's not devastating. It's just very annoying," resident Pat Behrle said.

For the past week, Behrle's husband was able to hop into his kayak and paddle away from their backyard.

"Where you can see dry pavement there, he was kayaking on that last week," she said.

The couple has lived in their home in the River Landing neighborhood long enough to have their routine perfected, based on how much water is released.

“We know 3,000 puts some water in our backyard. Five thousand, we can still let the dogs out. Six thousand, backyard’s gone, we’re walking our dogs out front,” Behrle said.

Neighbors down the river are watching and waiting to see what will happen with the weather this week, with several chances for rain in the forecast.

Residents said the Army Corp of Engineers has been open with neighborhoods, explaining what they’re doing and why, but it doesn’t lessen the inconvenience for homeowners.

"It used to be about once a year. Now it seems to be two to three times a year," Behrle said.


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  • William Jones May 8, 10:33 a.m.
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    You're are right that the run off from the growing urban areas is why flooding is becoming more severe but without Falls of the Neuse Dam it would have been even worse. During the recent rains the lake level rose almost 10 feet in a couple of days and that water was held back until after the river had crested downstream. Without the dam the flooding would not lasted as long but would have crested much higher. Very sorry for the damage to your home place but without the dam it would have probably washed away by now. All the water that was held back would have rushed downstream with the runoff from below the dam.

  • Jean Edwards May 8, 10:29 a.m.
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    I have to agree with Joey Cuddington. Our farm runs along side of the Neuse and over the years, Neuse would overflow, but nothing like it has in recent years. Ever since Falls Lake was built, they always release water, trying to "protect" those that built around the lake area, not worrying about those downstream who have farmed and lived in that area for generations. My dad died in 1997 at 83 years of age. Before he died, he stated he had never seen the Neuse so high on the farmland until Falls Lake came into question. I said it then and I'll say it again, the Corps of Engineers could care less about anyone downstream. It is unbelieveable the amount of farmland/crops we have lost over the last few years due to all the water. At least we didn't have damage to our homes, at least not yet. But it's coming, because now, the Corps of Engineers have allowed outsiders to come in and try to "create" wetlands on surrounding property, causing major flooding in yards and the roadway.

  • Joey Cuddington May 8, 10:02 a.m.
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    My home and farm, as well as many others located down stream from Wake County, was developed many decades before the Falls Lake fiasco. The dam was built UPSTREAM from the City of Raleigh and does nothing to control the flooding and run-off from the ever growing urban areas. My home was built in 1880 and the floors never got wet until Floyd in 1999. Matthew killed me with 24 inches inside the house. The flood last week put it back under the house for only the 3rd time since 1880 ..... now tell me again how Falls Lake Dam is helping those downstream!!! The river is well above flood stage here now and rain is expected for the next few days. I am only one of thousands that are sharing this experience. This problem flows all the way to New Bern.

  • Sean Creasy May 8, 7:58 a.m.
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    I for one don't want to hear a PEEP about any drought around this area or east of here this year...

  • William Jones May 8, 6:36 a.m.
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    Because the lake level was within 4 feet of overflowing at which point all flood control is lost. Another heavy rain at that point would not just cause minor flooding but totally destroy those neighborhoods.

  • Brian Tucker May 8, 3:55 a.m.
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    Why doesn't the Corps just release a smaller amount over time, rather than do it all at once ? It would seem like common sense to save land owners down stream ....and cause less damage for those still dealing with flooding from recent rains.

  • Betsey Duggins May 7, 9:54 p.m.
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    I certainly hope that they know what they are doing! The last time they did this, with Floyd in 1999, Kinston was the big loser! Lord help the southern part of the Neuse River neighbors.

  • Deborah Turner May 7, 8:56 p.m.
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    Why do people continue to build in flood zones ?