Local News

Rocky Mount Ready For Isabel After Floyd

Posted September 16, 2003

— People in Rocky Mount are paying extra close attention to Hurricane Isabel.

In one night, Hurricane Floyd dumped 16 inches of rain on the city. Massive flooding killed six people and destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses.

"Just completely flooded," resident Jennifer Ezzell. She said her neighborhood was under water. "Everybody was in John boats trying to get everybody out of houses."

Ezzell's home is one of only four that remain. The others were torn down as part of a $41 million federal flood plain buyout.

Rocky Mount Assistant Fire Chief Keith Harris organized that program, which moved 850 families away from flood-prone areas.

"We feel our flood risk potential is much lower than it was pre-Floyd," Harris said Monday.

One of the biggest reasons Rocky Mount is not as concerned as in years past is because the

Tar River

is 7 feet below flood stage. That was not the case four years ago before Floyd when the river was already flooded.

The Tar River is located 50 yards from Ezzell's home, but she is ready for Isabel.

"It's going to be a horrible storm, lots of wind, lots of rain -- but I'm not worried about it," she said.

In Rocky Mount, residents, the river, and even the rescue crews are better prepared for Isabel.

As of April, 12 firefighters are now nationally-certified for swift water rescue. The crew could save lives this week.

"We're better prepared, we're ready to respond. We're waiting to see exactly what Isabel has in store for us," Harris said.

Harris said his department is notifying people who still live in flood-prone areas of the potential for high water.

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