Local News

Washed-out road strands Moore residents

Waters stood inches from houses and rushed from the flood gates of a nearby dam, a day after Tropical Storm Hanna washed out the only road to the Riverbend community.

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VASS, N.C. — Tropical Storm Hanna left some of its most dramatic damage in Moore County, where rains washed away part of the only road to a small community.

Waters tore away a 10-foot-wide section of Autumn Drive on Saturday evening, stranding about 80 members of the Riverbend community. On Sunday, flood waters were still inches from houses, and Paul Carneal trawled around his neighborhood in a boat.

"(I) get tired of Mother Nature sometimes, I guess," Carneal said.

Residents said a nearby lake overflowed, causing a creek that runs underneath Autumn Drive to grow too large and wash away the road above it.

The State Forestry Service laid down a portable, log-mat bridge over the washed-portion of the dirt road. However, agents asked homeowners only to take vehicles across it during emergencies.

Moore County officials said neither the county or state have a responsibility to fix the road, because it is privately maintained by a homeowners' association.

"I'm hurt and disappointed with our government and our state and our country, because they don't want to help – just because it is supposedly a private road," Riverbend resident Linda Carneal said. "I'm sorry; I pay taxes just like everybody else."

County officials said they have tried to reach out to the Riverbend community. Members of the volunteer fire department have checked in on residents.

"No one wanted us to open a shelter, so they are staying at home," Carlton Cole, public-safety director for Moore County, said. "They still have power and electricity, so we are trying to help them take care of what needs they have."

Riverbend residents said they hope state officials will declare a state of emergency in their area, enabling them to apply for state and federal assistance.

Meanwhile, residents say they worry that more flooding could be headed to their homes – from an upstream dam strained by Hanna's rains.

Water spilled over the dam at Crystal Lake, and its flood gates have been opened. Waters have exceeded the safety zones around the lake, said Tony Sassano, chief of the Vass Volunteer Fire Department.

Sassano said officials are worried that the dam could collapse.

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Robert Meikle, Photographer
Anne Johnson, Web Editor

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