Local News

'Worst Flooding Ever' Leaves Eastern NC Under Water, Cut Off By Closed Roads

Posted September 15, 1999

— Flooding from Floyd continues to be a major problem in the eastern part of North Carolina, as roads are closed and people are stranded throughout the area.

State officials sayparts of 88 roadsin eastern North Carolina are covered with water and are impassable Thursday night. The worst part of the flooding is east of Tarboro along the Tar River.

Parts of both I-40 and I-95, the state's two major thoroughfares, are closed. Water on roads has made driving extremely dangerous. Johnston County:Floyd's flood waters have claimed another life. The body of a man was recovered along with his vehicle early Friday morning in Johnston County.

The vehicle went off the road on Beagley Road near Micro. According to officials, the male driver was traveling east on Beagley and tried to cross through several feet of water across the road.

Meanwhile, search efforts continued for a second vehicle and its passengers on Cornwallis Road in the Cleveland area.

The Johnston County Sheriff's Department says Kenly and Princeton sustained significant flooding. At some homes, the water came right up the front stoop and across the front porch. Several families in Kenly have been rescued by people in boats.

A wall of water ripped apart Tar Heel Road near Benson. The street is split in two. The road is closed, and it will be awhile before the gap is closed, too. Sampson County:In Sampson County, the Clinton Water Plant expanded by leaps and bounds since Floyd came rumbling through. Down the road, a dam burst its banks and turned golf course greens into a sandy mess and wiped out nearby highways. Interstate 40 in Sampson County has east-bound lanes closed and traffic is being re-routed near exit 364.

Floyd's torrential rains caused several hog lagoons to overflow. One of the biggest was at Lanier Farm near the Sampson County line. Two million gallons spilled into Rockfish Creek. The creek feeds into the Cape Fear River. Halifax County:In Halifax County, officials have extended a curfew until 8 a.m. Friday. Several residents there were rescued from the rooftops of their flooded homes.

Floyd also flooded parts of I-95 in Halifax County, turning it into a road of roaring rapids.

Floyd left up to 15 feet of water in one Roanoke Rapids mobile home park, forcing evacuations, submerging cars and even floating one home a little closer to its neighbor.

The city is equally concerned about an eight-foot section of bridge that Floyd wiped out. Broken and blocked roadways left parts of Halifax County unreachable, even for emergency personnel. Wilson County:Wilson looks more like an island if you are in town. Highway 264 flooded after a dam broke. Several other major roads were also washed over. The high water trapped people in town, where streets were under a foot or more of water, and kept others from getting there.

Bill's Barbecue, a Wilson landmark, is surrounded by several feet of water. The flooding is so bad, the town has issued a curfew until 7 a.m. Friday. Violators could receive a $500 fine and 30 days in jail.

The City of Wilson is asking residents and businesses to conserve water due to damage at its pumping station. Nash County:The Department of Transportation is re-routing traffic along Interstate 95, including Nash County, due to extensive flooding.

Part of downtown Nashville sits under four feet of water, with flooding rupturing a large propane tank.

The flooding is so bad that two rescue workers could not find any way to reach their homes in Enfield. They finally decided to walk.

Two National Guard members narrowly escape injury when a five-ton truck they were riding in was caught in the flood water.

Creeks feeding the Tar River in Rocky Mount overflowed their banks and sent water rushing into neighborhoods like the Brookview Subdivision.

Water also flooded across roads and highways in Rocky Mount making travel impossible. One trucker learned firsthand; he was rescued from his truck by a Marine chopper at the Rocky Mount exit of I-95. Edgecombe County:Flooding in neighborhoods is so extensive in Edgecombe County that the Sheriff's Department issued a call for county boat owners to assist with rescues.

The areas most in need are Rocky Mount and Pinetops. All willing boat owners should call the sheriff at252-641-7911or252- 641-7941. Emergency officials have received many requests for evacuations.

The levels of area creeks and rivers are also expected to get higher. The Tar River is expected to post a record crest Saturday of 34 - 35 feet. The previous record was 23.9 feet, set in March 1998.

In addition, a river flood warning was issued Thursday at noon for the Cape Fear River at the William O. Huske lock and dam, and for the Little Pee Dee River at Galivant's Ferry.

The river stage at the Huske Lock was at 39.2 feet Thursday morning. Flood stage is 42 feet. The river is expected to crest near 60 to 61 feet by Tuesday.

Moderate flooding will begin Friday with extensive flooding along the south bank of the river, reaching the USGS well house. The Little Pee Dee River at Galivant's Ferry is forecast to crest between 12 and 13 feet on Tuesday. Wayne County:Extensive flooding is reported countywide, forcing the closing of a number of roads.

Near Mount Olive, raging rivers washed out one road in two places. In Goldsboro, flood waters are lapping at the doors of a church. Several dozen homes and buildings are also under water four feet deep. Harnett County:Emergency workers in Harnett County say a handful of houses were badly damaged, mostly by flooding. Other than that, they say the county came out of it pretty well.

High winds did pose a problem at Sawyer's Airfield in Erwin. One plane was damaged; another was destroyed. Cumberland County:In Cumberland County, 80 people had to be evacuated from the Creeks Edge Apartments as high waters threatened the Westside Complex.

In Fayetteville, Floyd's winds and rains were much stronger than anything we saw in the Triangle. Trees came crashing down, smashing through houses. Winds and trees also brought down power lines. Thousands were left in the dark. Wake County:Raleigh's Crabtree Valley area historically has had difficulties with flooding. With Floyd it was no different. Three feet of water were reported along Glenwood Avenue in front of the mall at one point, power was out, and the shopping mall was closed.

By mid-morning Thursday, however, the sandbags were being removed. Mall officials were optimistic shoppers could return on Friday.

Extensive flooding was also reported along Old Wake Forest Road and Capitol Boulevard.

In Zebulon, the Little River swelled and swallowed four houses and two mobile homes. The park off of Highway 97 is under water, and the Bunn Lake dam broke, causing water to wash over Highway 39. Pitt County:The Pitt County town of Farmville has declared a state of emergency and set a curfew from noon Thursday until noon Friday.

Flood water is not the only problem left behind by Floyd. Across the eastern part of North Carolina, homeowners confronted downed trees in their yards, power outages, signs and siding peeled off buildings, and streets turned into lakes.

In Raleigh, homeowner Lee Holder said a massive tree sounded "like a 7-mm magnum going off" as it snapped and crashed through his house.

A tree crushed David Pilley's roof opening up the ceiling in the bedroom where he was sleeping. His wife and child were sleeping in the living room.

Former NCSU basketball player Chris Corchiani also had a tree in his yard off Dixie Trail. As it fell, it took a power line with it.

Wilson resident David Bookman could not survey the damage at his home, because it was buried under a fallen tree. All over Wilson, trees were reported down.

With no damage to deal with, some folks became mischievous.

Some motorists deliberately negotiated streets clearly under water. Authorities caution, however, that driving such streets is extremely dangerous. It only takes 2 feet of moving water to float a standard car.

After Floyd moved on, shelters were closed in counties with less damage on Thursday, as people realized they could safely return to their homes.

Contamination is a problem with some water systems. Until further notice, people in Sampson County Water and Sewer District I are advised to boil their water for at least three minutes before using it for drinking, cooking, hand-washing and brushing teeth.

A number of municipal waste treatment systems are also having trouble. Systems with overflow problems include Clinton, Wilson, Kenly, Sanford, Cary and Fremont.

After a harrowing night, Gov. Jim Hunt assessed the state's situation. "This morning I feel a little better," Hunt told WRAL's Tom Lawrence. "The winds haven't been quite as strong as we thought. The hurricane has veered off a little further to the east. But we've got the worst flooding we've ever had in a storm. And so we're going to have terrible damage."


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