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As Water Pours Toward Sounds, Worst Of Flooding Yet To Come

Although there hasn’t been a drop of rain to fall from the sky since the weekend, the worst flooding could still be ahead for areas in southeastern North Carolina.

That's because rain from Hurricane Matthew that fell on areas inland – like the Triangle – will continue to flow toward the coast, collecting in ever-growing rivers that will surge through areas like Goldsboro, Kinston and Lumberton along the way.

The National Weather Service predicted that, at minimum, four rivers would experience "major flooding" at nearly a dozen locations, with the worst of the flooding lasting late into the week or even into the weekend.

"Unfortunately, the rain ... went pretty far inland, as most people in North Carolina saw last weekend. And because of that, that water has to go somewhere, so it flows into the creeks and into the rivers, and it takes time for that water to get from the mid states, the Raleigh area and so forth, all the way down to the coast," explained Todd Hamill, with the National Weather Center Southeast River Forecast Center.

The National Weather Center keeps an interactive map of areas in danger of flooding and has identified no fewer than six areas at risk for "major flooding" and another four areas for "moderate flooding." These identified areas include:

Map shows where more flooding will occur
Credit Southeast River Forecast Center / National Weather Center
National Weather Center
The National Weather Service has identified areas throughout southeastern North Carolina that will see continued flooding into the weekend.

  • Neuse River near Goldsboro: Major flooding through at least Sunday afternoon
  • Neuse River at Kinston: Major flooding through at least Sunday afternoon
  • Lumber River at Lumberton: Major flooding through at least Sunday morning
  • Cape Fear River near Chinquapin: Major flooding through Friday; minor flooding through Sunday afternoon
  • Little River at Manchester: Major flooding through Tuesday, minor flooding through Thursday
  • Cape Fear River at W.O. Huske Lock: Major flooding through Tuesday; minor flooding through at least Sunday
  • Cape Fear River at Fayetteville: Moderate flooding through Wednesday; minor flooding through Thursday
  • Cape Fear River at Elizabethtown: Moderate flooding through Wednesday; minor flooding through Sunday
  • Cape Fear River at Lock 1: Moderate flooding through Friday; minor flooding through Saturday
  • Cape Fear River near Burgaw: Moderate flooding through at least Sunday

"If we were up in the mountains, you'd find that these things would rise very quickly, and fall very quickly," said Hamill. "But as you get into the Piedmont and the Coastal areas, it becomes a lot more flat. And so not only does it go into the rivers, but it comes outside the rivers a long ways."
At a Tuesday morning press conference, Gov. Pat McCrory highlighted the ongoing danger as well, again urging residents in danger areas to evacuate. "I urge people impacted by this storm to take all instructions from local officials," he said. "Do not go through standing water. Do not put our first responders at risk in an effort to save you."

More than 2,000 people have been rescued by swift water rescue teams and the North Carolina National Guard has activated more than 1,000 troops to assist with recovery efforts, according to McCrory. Major thoroughfares, includes parts of Interstate 95 and Interstate 40, remained closed Tuesday. Nearly 4,000 people are in emergency shelters, including 1,200 in Lumberton alone.

Although there were few positives to take away, at least no more rain has fallen. "We've been dry, it's been sunny for the most part, and it looks to stay that way at least through the coming weekend and into early next week," said Hamill.

Jason deBruyn is the WUNC health reporter, a beat he took in 2020. He has been in the WUNC newsroom since 2016.
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