Tar, Neuse rivers crest, but downstream towns await worst

Posted April 27

— The Tar River crested overnight in Rocky Mount as several areas in Edgecombe County flooded on Thursday.

The river crested at 25.7 feet, which is just above major flood stage at 25 feet. The water level in Rocky Mount will fall quickly, though.

"It's likely to be below flood stage (in Rocky Mount) by Sunday," said WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Garnder. "Not just below major flood stage, but all the way below flood stage—below 19 feet."

For comparison, the Tar River reached 36.2 feet after Hurricane Matthew in October and 41.5 feet after Hurricane Floyd in 1999.

All that water in Rocky Mount, though, is heading downstream toward Tarboro. Edgecombe County officials on Wednesday declared a state of emergency and warned residents in flood-prone areas to closely monitor river levels in the coming days.

Edgecombe County schools announced that classes would be canceled Thursday as a result of weather conditions and Nash-Rocky Mount schools will operate on a 2-hour delay.

The Tar River is expected to crest in Tarboro late Friday night at 30.5 feet at the Town Bridge river gauge. Major flood stage at that location is 32 feet.

"It's not likely to quite get to major flood stage but it's going to be very close to it," Gardner said. "Then it will hold there for much of the weekend.

"So, Tarboro hasn't seen the worst of it just yet."

The Neuse River

The Neuse River in Smithfield also crested overnight at 25.29 feet and is on its way down. But, like the Tar River, downstream towns, such as Goldsboro, are expecting waters to rise.

"As we head downstream to Goldsboro, we're going to see problems there for a much longer time," said WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner.

Gardner said the Neuse River in Goldsboro is expected to get to 23.7 feet over the weekend, but it could climb to major flood stage—24 feet—toward the end of the weekend and into early next week.

Images, taken one week apart, show how the Tar River has risen.

Tar River on April 26

Tar River on April 19

"It's been hard, it's been hard. You can't even sleep when it rains because it gets full quick," said resident Arturo Oviedo.

In a section of Pinetops, flood waters covered neighborhood streets and yards. Walking through knee or even waist-deep water is the only way in or out.

Sarah Bridgers and many of her neighbors were still living in FEMA trailers since Hurricane Matthew hit six months ago. The latest round of floods displaced them again.

"Very scary, especially when you have a 4-year-old granddaughter and a 4-month-old grandson," Bridgers said.

The flood waters forced neighbors, including Curmilus Dancy's father, out of their homes in at least four communities surrounding a creek that links to the rising Tar River.

"I called him this morning about 6 o'clock and told him he needs to look outside and he saw there was water in the yard. At the time, the sheriff's department was coming through evacuating so he did come out," Dancy said.

An emergency shelter is now open at 500 Davis St. in Tarboro. The shelter will remain open until further notice, officials said.

Several roads are now impassable and some areas on Bynum Farm Road, just outside of the Town of Pinetops, have been evacuated.

The following state roads are closed:

  • NC 111, Near Pinetops
  • NC 122, Near Pinetops
  • Temperance Hall Road, East of Pinetops
  • Faith Baptist Church Road, Northwest of Pinetops
  • Bynum Farm Road, Near Pinetops
  • Leggett Road, East of Rocky Mount
  • Spring Field Road, East of Rocky Mount
  • Cox Avenue, East of Rocky Mount
  • Gay Road, East of Rocky Mount

Flooding closes major roads in Wilson

Flooding from rain that fell Sunday through Tuesday afternoon has closed a number of major highways in Wilson county.

On Wednesday, water was flowing over the Buckhorn Reservoir and the area surrounding Bill Ellis Barbecue was surrounded by water.

"I could see it crawling right up on the parking lot," said Bill Ellis Barbecue employee Frankie Knight.

Businesses around the restaurant flooded but Knight said the water stopped a few inches before reaching the door.

"Right now we are good," Knight said. "We are going to be right back to serving chicken and barbecue."

Portions of Interstate 795 and U.S. Highway 264 were blocked, with water rushing across the roads just beyond the barricades.

Department of Transportation officials said the detours could remain in place for days with many lasting through the weekend.

Wilson County Schools will operate on a 2-hour delay Thursday as flooded areas are expected to rise and worsen overnight. The Wilson Early College Academy, school offices and the central office will operate on a 1-hour delay.

As a result of the delay, before-school care will not be offered and breakfast will not be served to students.

Only two weeks ago, Troy Aycock finished his recovery from Hurricane Matthew flooding. He said the damage from this week's storm looks worse.

"[It's] actually deeper now than it was with Matthew," he said.

Johnston County Schools delay amid poor road conditions

Johnston County Public Schools announced that the district would operate on a 1-hour delay Thursday, as a result of poor road conditions.

More than 20 roads in the county have been closed by the DOT and several others have experienced issues as a result of flooding. School officials said buses have been rerouted to avoid known issues and will remain on these new routes until all roads are reopened.

The 1-hour delay will give bus drivers the opportunity to see the roads and be prepared for any further issues that may have arisen overnight.

Johnston County Emergency Management Coordinator Kevin Madsen says drivers should expect more road closures tonight into tomorrow.

"Some roads that aren't currently flooded may flood over the evening hours so it is very important for people to minimize that travel during these flood conditions," he said.

And for those who do have to travel, Madsen says pay attention to the barricades.

"Our fire departments have done numerous water rescues with vehicles that have been trapped in floodwaters and we want to try and prevent that as much as possible," Madsen said.


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