Local News

Flooding, Dam Burst Force Evacuations in Cumberland, Hoke Counties

Posted May 27, 2003

— Authorities say residents evacuated in Hope Mills after a dam burst Monday morning have returned home.

The dam on Hope Mills Lake, a recreational body in the town of about 11,000, broke about 10 a.m., said Doc Nunnery, Cumberland County emergency services director.

Officials said they tried to slowly release water from Hope Mills Lake, but in the process the dam burst. Everyone downstream from the dam were encouraged to leave their homes.

"The earth and dam started going at about 2 or 3 feet at a time, and the old dam just gave away," said Chief John Hodges of the Hope Mills Police Department.

Police went door-to-door to warn people to leave dozens of homes in the water's path.

The Happy Valley Retirement Center was included in the evacuation. Cumberland County emergency services director said most of the 30 residents were able to walk on their own. He said the water was unlikely to reach them, but officials did not want to take any chances.

Emergency officials set up a shelter at South View High School, but closed it as residents were allowed to return to their homes around 4:45 p.m.

Hope Mills' mayor hopes for state and federal help to rebuild the lake.

"The lake's been here a long time, and a lot of people have enjoyed it. I surely hope it can be built back," Mayor Edwin Beaver said.

Lake Upchurch, also in Hope Mills, is filled to capacity and putting its dam to the test. No homes are threatened, but emergency officials are keeping an eye on things.

An earthen dam in Hoke County could soon give way. Water has been rising along Rockfish Creek at the rate of 6 inches an hour. The pressure already washed out part of Overview Road.

Emergency officials evacuated homes in the McLaughlin Lakes subdivision Monday morning and by afternoon were going door-to-door to get people in about 100 homes downstream to voluntarily evacuate.

In Fayetteville, flood waters quickly rose to about four feet near Cross Creek Mall early Monday. Near downtown Fayetteville, water covered Taft Street.

The heavy rain left a low-lying Fayetteville apartment complex knee-deep in water in a section of the Eagle Nest Apartments. No residents were forced to leave but some cars were flooded.

The fire department used a boat to get a couple out of their home. Water reached some people's front doors before it receded.

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