Local News

Water Release From Falls Lake Dam Controversial

Posted September 18, 1996 12:00 a.m. EDT

— The Neuse River is a big nuisance in Kinston.

It's high water like they've never seen this far downstream. Many people are pointing an angry finger upstream. Pointing at Falls Dam.

The U.S. Army Corps of engineers is releasing a record amount of water, and there's a big reason why.

Behind the dam, Falls Lake has reached its highest level ever. The army has its orders: protect the dam, even if it means flooding the low-lying neighborhoods along the river.

Our goal is to drop this lake as quickly and as safely as we can, taking into consideration the data that we've got to deal with," said Tom Freeman of the Army Corps of Engineers. "We've also got to gauge the rainfall that's coming in. It's going to be a difficult thing for many of the citizens of North Carolina to make it through for a number of weeks to come."

Talk about difficult to make it through. Try wading a mile in their shoes in the River Bend Plantation. That neighborhood is just a few miles downstream from the dam. Roads leading to many homes are now part of the river.

Many understand the choices.

"If the dam broke, there'd probably be a lot more damage out here," said flooding victim Ronald Norton. "My house might actually get flooded out. I guess I'd much rather for them to do what they're doing now instead of having one big catastrophe around here."