Local News

Chatham residents tired of rowing in, out of neighborhood because of flooded road

Posted December 27, 2018 7:50 p.m. EST
Updated December 27, 2018 7:51 p.m. EST

— For the 20-some people who live on Jeremiah Drive in eastern Chatham County, the only way home these days is by water.

"Anywhere we need to go, this is how we have to transport ourselves," Valerie Morrow said Thursday as she paddled a boat across the flooded road.

Jeremiah Drive has been flooded for 10 days, Morrow said, but the issue has plagued residents for years.

In 2015, for example, a local fire department offered boat rides for people who didn't want to risk driving through the water. The following year, some people couldn't get to work, while others had to stay in a hotel because they had no access to their homes.

"My family couldn't even have Christmas dinner at our home because we were flooded out," Morrow said. "It's tiring. We're tired now."

The floodwater is backed up from the nearby Jordan Lake Dam. Since Hurricane Florence hit in September, the road has been underwater more days than not, residents say.

The flooding is a concern not just for local residents but also for first responders who may need to reach them.

"If we have an emergency on the other side of the water, it's absolutely urgent," said Steve Newton, Chatham County's emergency management director.

Newton said he has discussed the problem with the state Department of Transportation, which maintains Jeremiah Drive.

"They understand what the problem is. They're looking at potential solutions," he said.

DOT officials said in a statement that the agency first needs to determine the cause of the flooding before pursuing any long-term solutions.

Morrow and her neighbors hope answers come soon.

"You dread getting up and knowing you got to come and fight the water," she said. "Somebody has to do something about [it] now, as opposed to later."