Eastern NC keeps an eye on Matthew after heavy rains cause a week of flooding

Al Williford—submitted
A week of heavy rains that led to flooding in several areas of North Carolina

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Residents in Cumberland County are cleaning up after a week heavy rains and flooding led to evacuations and school closings. “While we have not yet had any requests for state assistance, we stand ready to provide whatever support is needed to respond to this latest emergency,” said Gov. Pat McCrory.McCrory and State Emergency Management officials say they are watchig the situation closely as Cumberland and Sampson counties watch for dam failures and rising water.Fayetteville and Cumberland County officials say “several hundred” people will need to be evacuated if a dam in the area is breached. If this does happen, water is expected to rise over Highway 301 and Interstate 95. More than 20 streets have been affected by flooding in Fayetteville.Currently, Rhodes Pond Dam in Godwin is breached on one side and water is overtopping the dam. State officials are warning of a complete dam failure. In Hoke County, officials have already reported a dam failure on a small lake known as Over Lake.Cumberland County and Fort Bragg closed schools on Friday. Hoke County operated on a two-hour delay. On Thursday, Fayetteville Mayor Nat Robertson signed an emergency declaration for heavy flooding.”Fayetteville has had a remarkable amount of rainfall,” said Robertson. “It doesn’t matter how good our storm drains are, we can’t keep up with the capacity. No city in America could keep up with this storm.”Efforts to clear drains and roads began Wednesday evening. Officials have urged residents to stay off the roads and not make any unnecessary trips.Homes were evacuated in West Fayetteville beginning Thursday as water levels began to rise up to an inch inside the homes. The city opened emergency shelters to assist displaced residents. The Smith Recreation Center and the Spring Lake Recreation Center opened to residents on Thursday. The Red Cross of Fayetteville deployed its volunteers, food and water to the shelters. Thursday’s flooding came on the heels of flooding in Bertie and Pender counties last week.Emergency management officials are working to deal with the current situation while keeping an eye on major Hurricane Matthew currently churning through the Caribbean. The storm forced evacuations in Jamaica and Cuba over the weekend. Matthew is projected to be over Florida by Tuesday and potentially off of the coast of North Carolina by Thursday of next week.