Lessons from Floyd help minimize damage in Greenville

Posted October 13, 2016 7:00 p.m. EDT

— People stopped on the Pitt Street bridge in Greenville on Thursday to watch the rising Tar River, which is expected to crest early Friday.

The high water has already turned some streets of the college town into canals, with water lapping at warehouses and brick houses while submerging mail boxes and sending trash bins bobbing.

Along First Street, south of the river, police guarded the entrance to an evacuated neighborhood, and signs were posted warning non-residents to stay out.

Chris Mann said he decided to evacuate the neighborhood, but he's not concerned about his home being flooded.

"I've only been here a year, so from what the neighbors who've been here longer (say), I feel pretty confident that it's not going to get that high," Mann said. "I just try to do what they tell me."

Greenville Mayor Allen Thomas said nearly 600 homes and businesses will be affected by the flooding.

"Just 1 or 2 feet is the difference between 200 homes being impacted and 2,000 homes," Thomas said.

The Tar River is expected to crest at just over 25 feet, far short of the 29 feet the river reached after Hurricane Floyd in 1999.

"We learned a lot of lessons in Hurricane Floyd that we implemented in this tragic situation," the mayor said, such as elevating homes near the river on stilts.

Even after the river crests, it's forecast to remain at that level for about 24 hours and at major flood stage until early Tuesday, officials said.

Mann is staying with friends, but as many as 300 people are staying in five shelters around Greenville.

"The challenge doesn't go away," Thomas said. "We have hundreds of families which have been displaced that, for the long term, we're going to have to take care of them and get them back on track."