Local News

Belhaven Learns from Experience

Posted August 27, 1998 7:00 a.m. EDT

— For the fourth time in two years, the Beaufort County town of Belhaven is drying out and cleaning up.

"Whatever isn't nailed down or anchored to the ground will wash away," resident Stephen Ruart said.

Even a few things that were anchored washed away like one pier that drifted more than a hundred yards down the street.

Bonnie's strong wind and heavy rain pushed the nearby Pungo river into hundreds of homes and businesses. The water is gone, but the mud and the mess was left.

After three hurricanes and one tropical storm, this damage has happened so often that people elevated everything they could to avoid heavier losses.

"This place got about, I'd say three and a half feet in it," store owner Joe Tyson said. "My mom and dad's house, which is a couple of blocks away, they got about six inches."

Though she did not compare to Fran, Bonnie will not be forgotten for a long time. Longtimers say flooding is a part of life this close to sea level. However, since 1996 it has become a bigger part than anyone expected.

"We didn't have any storms for almost 25 years, but since Bertha came through and then Fran, we've learned a lot," store owner Bud O'Neal said. "We learned that we'd better get our stuff up, and do it a little earlier than we used to."

A $9 million federal grant will allow about 300 homes in Belhaven to be raised above flood levels.