Kinston residents keep eye on rising Neuse

Posted October 11, 2016 6:13 p.m. EDT

— Watching and waiting is the main activity in Kinston this week, as residents wait for the excess water in the Neuse River following Hurricane Matthew to roll downstream toward them in the coming days.

The river has been several feet above flood stage since early Monday and is expected to rise another 6 feet before it crests this weekend.

Lenoir County and Kinston officials issued a mandatory evacuation order Monday for residents and businesses along the river, fearing flooding that could rival the high water seen after Hurricane Floyd in 1999.

"This is, in my opinion, worse than Floyd," said Wesley Turner, who fled his home amid rising water on Saturday.

Turner, who is now staying at a shelter at Lenoir Community College, said he and his dogs barely made it out, and he had to leave everything behind, including his wallet and his dentures.

"People are scared because you're hearing all kinds of rumors," he said. "All I can do is thank God there's something like this to help people like us a little bit."

Red Cross shelter manager Ray Edwards said about 170 people were at the shelter Tuesday, but he expects the number to rise as the river does. Kinston officials put a 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew in effect Tuesday night.

Shenise Allen moved to the shelter with her four children Monday when their neighborhood was evacuated. She said she has to wait till next week to see how high the water gets – and what is left behind.

"I just want to go home – if I have a home to go home to," Allen said.

Karen White is trying to salvage what she can before the flood hits. The owner of Oak Bridge Community Mart, south of the Neuse River, was moving everything she and her family could out of the building and into storage.

"The two houses above, they've already moved out. I think the one across the street, she's already moved. Her gazebos are already underwater," White said.

During Floyd, there was 4 feet of water in her store, and the family lost everything. White said she's determined not to let that happen again.

"You can't take that chance. You can't sit back and wait and see what it's going to do," she said.