DOT: Hundreds of roads still closed due to Hurricane Matthew

Posted October 24, 2016 5:00 p.m. EDT
Updated October 24, 2016 6:00 p.m. EDT

— As North Carolina continues to recover from the damage caused by Hurricane Matthew, the storm's effect on roads is clear.

Sections of hundreds of roads remain closed in the eastern half of the state almost three weeks after the storm barreled up the East Coast and out to sea.

North Carolina Department of Transportation officials say some drivers have ignored safety barricades in areas impacted by the storm, a decision that puts lives at risk.

A Cumberland County man drove past barriers blocking Bingham Drive on Saturday and tumbled into a collapsed section of the road. He wasn't seriously hurt, but others who have made similar decisions haven't been as lucky.

Several people died during the storm when they drove around barricades and into floodwaters that swept them away. The water is gone in many areas, but some roads are still dangerous.

"The barricades are there for a reason. They say, 'The road is not safe ahead, don't go that way,'" DOT spokesman Steve Abbott said.

Some roads still closed may not look unsafe, but it's not always the visible parts of a road that are the problem.

In some cases, the ground underneath a road has been washed out.

"The first time something heavy drives on, it's going down," Abbott said of some roads.

North Carolina State Highway Patrol Sergeant Michael Baker said people shouldn't ignore the barricades.

"The DOT has not forgotten to get that barricade out of the roadway," Baker said. "We have several trouble spots across the state."

Robertson Pond Road near Wendell is one of them. A section of it is still closed, one of more than 400 across the state.

DOT officials say some of the barricades could be up for weeks or even months.

"Because we have to get contractors in. Some places you have to get specially made culverts and pipes," Abbott said. "This isn't something that's going to be done in just a few days."

Baker says drivers should stay patient and continue to find alternate routes.

"Being two or three minutes late is not worth putting your life in danger," he said.