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Fayetteville In For One Of Its Roughest Nights Yet

The Cape Fear River continues to rise in Fayetteville. While flood waters in downtown receded, other parts of the city are preparing for the river to crest.
Tuesday was a disjointed afternoon in Fayetteville. Under the cover of a blue sky, some residents took pictures and videos from bridges, with flood waters climbing closer. Police cars zipped around town on a humid afternoon.

Jason Rice prepared for tonight.

"Yesterday we were rescuing horses, pigs, dogs, cats, people," Rice said. "What county was that in? We started out in Lumberton and I’ve been all the way close to Burgaw."

Water from the South River flows over Hayes Mill Rd. in Godwin, N.C., several miles northeast of Fayetteville, Tuesday, Sep. 18, 2018.
Credit Ben McKeown / For WUNC
/
For WUNC
Water from the South River flows over Hayes Mill Rd. in Godwin, N.C., several miles northeast of Fayetteville, Tuesday, Sep. 18, 2018.

Rice is a burly fellow, in a gray cut off shirt. He’s from Sanford, retired, after 18 years in the US Army. He said he's here as a good Samaritan, and later this evening will rescue people who are stranded. He has two flat-bottomed boats for rescuing people and a 9mm holstered to his left hip.
 
"This is all out of my pocket," he said. "My granddaddy always said you can pray for a miracle, or you could be the miracle. When I have a boat sitting out in the back yard not doing anything – you help people on the worst days of their lives and you try to make it better."

He responds to messages on Facebook, as a means to get to people much faster

Craig Williams owns Deep Creek River Outfitters. He stands in the dark, having voluntarily cut the power earlier in the day. Water is filling up in his basement. And a couple of dozen people have gathered in his parking lot to watch the river, which has now covered the back of his property.

"I’m going to stay here until it gets dark, it will be too dark to hang out here," Williams said. "Lot of businesses are closed. Lot of people are not at work today. Court is closed. Lot of business are closed. They’re all coming down here to take a once-in-lifetime - I hope once-in-a-lifetime - look. We may see it again in our lifetime, but I never thought I would see it two years after Matthew."

Water from the South River flows over Hayes Mill Rd. in Godwin, N.C., several miles northeast of Fayetteville, Tuesday, Sep. 18, 2018.
Credit Ben McKeown / For WUNC
/
For WUNC
Water from the South River flows over Hayes Mill Rd. in Godwin, N.C., several miles northeast of Fayetteville, Tuesday, Sep. 18, 2018.

By mid-afternoon, thick clouds and a pungent smell had moved in. Richard Johnson was with some colleagues working to remove documents from an office park. And he too had noticed the air.

"If you from around this area and you’ve ever caught a muddy catfish, that’s exactly what is smells like," Johnson said.

By 4 p.m., law enforcement had cleared the spectators from several bridges in the northeastern parts of the city. While some areas are regaining power and access to roads following Florence’s wrath, Fayetteville is in for one of its roughest nights yet.

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