Beaufort County residents used to battling flooding

Posted August 24, 2011 6:52 p.m. EDT

— For 39 years, Dr. Josh and Carol Tayloe, of Washington in Beaufort County, have had front row seats for hurricanes hitting the Carolina coast.

“We do get very nervous, not only for us but anybody around. Of course, anybody in low-lying areas, you know, is going to be exposed to the high water and the wind,” Josh Tayloe said.

Half an hour east, in the fishing town of Belhaven on the northern tip of the Pungo River, residents have been underwater for almost every hurricane or nor'easter. All of Belhaven sits within a 100-year flood plain.

The city has made changes since Hurricane Fran flooded the state in 1996. Officials used a $16 million FEMA grant to help elevate more than 300 homes.

Tami Wiser’s home was among those elevated. She said water now comes only halfway up her steps and not in her house like before.

“We definitely feel safer,” Wiser said.

The effort to raise homes in Belhaven gained speed in 1999 when Hurricane Floyd hit the state.

Most of the town’s homes were raised above sea-level by the time Hurricane Isabel hit in 2003.

Emergency management officials said Wednesday they were already preparing for Hurricane Irene to cause flooding to coastal cities.