Floodwaters recede in Triangle, but some areas remain cut off

Posted December 31, 2015 6:49 p.m. EST
Updated January 1, 2016 5:18 p.m. EST

— While drivers in Durham had to deal with detours Thursday on roads that remain flooded, some Chapel Hill residents forced out of their homes Wednesday by fast-rising water were able to return to assess the damage.

State Department of Transportation officials closed Stagecoach Road at N.C. Highway 751 in Durham County because a stretch remains underwater. DOT crews were in the area Thursday checking on storm drains, but there was no word on when the road could reopen.

In Chapel Hill, contractors were cleaning up at Camelot Village Apartments and neighboring Brookwood Condominiums after flooding from Bolin Creek caused about $39,000 in damage and displaced about three dozen residents.

"There's something that needs to be done. It's a big problem that needs to be taken care of," Camelot Village resident Dwayne Hayes said.

Hayes lost everything in a similar flood about three years ago, so he has since moved to an upstairs unit. He said he rushed about Wednesday to help those whose belongings weren't high enough to remain dry.

"It was raining hard and coming up fast. I went running around telling everyone to move their cars, helping everyone move their cars, telling people to put their stuff up 2 to 3 feet," he said.

Darla Waugh was stunned to see that her first-floor unit wasn't damaged by the floodwaters.

"Oh gosh, it's dry," Waugh said, choking back tears. "I never thought it would pass me by."

Orange County and State Emergency Management crews checked out the complexes Thursday, along with Chapel Hill building inspectors. Sandbags were left for protection at the doors where residents who evacuated hadn't yet returned.

The area is prone to flooding. In 2013, 119 units in the two complexes were condemned because of flood damage.

Interim Chapel Hill Fire Chief Matthew Sullivan said Thursday that there were talks among town officials, property owners and the Federal Emergency Management Agency after the 2013 flood of moving residents out and turning the area into open space, but nothing ever came of it.

A town spokeswoman says Chapel Hill has tried to acquire the privately owned land since 2008, but the owners refuse to sell. Now, she said, the town's goal is to make the area habitable.