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State Plans To Take Natural Approach To Prevent Flooding

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WILSON — Flooding like we saw during Hurricane Floyd is impossible to stop. Minor street and creek flooding during heavy rain is a different story. Wilson is the testing ground for a new wetlands project designed to fight flooding.

For Miriam Landing, heavy rain can be unsettling. Last September's flood covered her Wilson neighborhood, but since then all it takes is a good hard rain to fill the nearby Hominy Canal. Just last week, the water came too close to comfort.

"We were up about all night long, walking the floor and looking at it," she says.

The state hopes to alleviate some flooding in Wilson. On paper, it is a simple plan: Undo years of man-made changes, and let the stream flow naturally.

For generations, people tried to straighten waterways to rush the water along, but scientists are learning that only pushes sediment downstream, which means uncontrolled flooding. The new plan includes plants and buffers that allow floodwater to back up where it will not hurt anyone.

Business owner Wallace Bullock believes the plan is worth a try.

"It's very encouraging. If they get it out and keep it from backing up again, it's very encouraging," he says. "It makes a man want to stay in business more over here."

Ron Ferrell of theN.C. Division of Water Qualitysays people have had the tendency to believe that they can control nature, but that belief is starting to change.

"We're now getting to the point to realize that many things that are in nature are there for a purpose," he says.

The project should begin in a few weeks. It is costing state taxpayers about $350,000. Similiar projects are being planned for parts of Raleigh, Smithfield and about 30 other places.

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Brian Bowman, Reporter
Brian Bowman, Photographer
Kamal Wallace, Web Editor

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