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Portions of the shoulder along Wheat Swamp Road in Lucama are flooded, but other sections are missing, along with the adjoining pavement, as floodwaters rise and wash out the road. The rural road was just one of many shuttered by emergency personnel in the wake of Hurricane Florence.
“Every time there is a great big rain, that road floods,” said Jack Langley, who lives adjacent to the flooded portion. “And they just redid the road after the last flood.”
“High water” signs blocked the road on Monday near Lucama as well as other towns in the county, and in the city limits of Wilson, many drivers ignored the warning and some turned around after seeing the floodwater firsthand.
Wilson County Emergency Management continues to monitor flooding situations throughout the county, as well as creeks and low-lying areas, according to Ron Hunt, Wilson County assistant manager. He added that a lot of the flooded areas Monday were a result of heavy rains that came through Sunday night and early Monday morning.
Several dozen roads in the city and county were closed Monday due to flooding. Officials said it’s vital for residents to pay attention and never drive through floodwaters or around barricades into floodwaters.
“They really do need to stop when they see any water and turn around,” Hunt said. “We just don’t want to see any injuries or loss of life.”
More than half of all flood-related drownings happen when people drive their vehicles into hazardous floodwaters, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The next highest of flood-related deaths is due to walking into or near floodwaters, the CDC said.
Hunt said the county is also in direct communication with towns throughout the county as well as the N.C. Department of Transportation.
RAINFALL AND FLOODING
According to the National Weather Service, Wilson County had received 10 to 15 inches of rain through Monday with another half-inch to inch in the forecast. Lucama Commissioner Leo Bass said he’d measured 15.2 inches of rain in his gauge following the Monday morning rainfall.
“My children tried to get me to come home, and I said, ‘No, all these other people are all right. I’m going to be all right, too,’” said Judy Mason, who moved to Lucama two years ago from Atlanta. “Well, I’m here to testify, the Lord took care of me, but when we have another storm, I’m going home. Whew.”
Mason said her house on Main Street sits higher than most, but floodwaters continue to rise in her yard.
Silver Lake dam engineer A.B. Whitley said a year’s worth of work has shored up the five-gate dam that holds an estimated 17,535 acres of water and draining the lake as much as possible helped, but in less than five days, water is spilling over the dam. City officials have been in contact with Whitley with regard to the relation of rising levels at Silver Lake and Lake Wilson alike. Whitley said the water level at Silver Lake had started to lower over the weekend, but the torrential rain Sunday night and Monday morning raised the level again with floodwater nearing the emergency spillway of the dam.
“I told the city we have it about stabilized so we are not losing water down the spillway, but we have impounded every bit we can,” Whitley explained. “We are trying to do a balancing act. If the water would recede, we could close some of the gates and cut off some of the water, but if it keeps coming up and goes around the spillway, (Lake Wilson) has not seen anything like what they would get.”
Crews have monitored the water level and removed debris often to keep water flowing.
“We don’t know when it is going to peak. Yesterday, we had it going down, and then we had all that mess last night, which put us back in this situation,” Whitley said Monday. “I just want it to start receding, instead of creeping up and up like it is doing.”
Bobby Hinnant, who has lived on Silver Lake for seven or eight years, said he’s been impressed with the work put in by the farmers who financially backed the dam project.
“They got the dam fixed and closed it back and the lake filled up. Now they’ve got it open, and it is staying normal right now,” Hinnant said. “It is staying where it is supposed to be, and they’ve done a fine job on it.”
While many residents have kept a wary eye on floodwaters, Wilson’s two emergency shelters were shuttered over the weekend. A new shelter at the previous U.S. Bankruptcy Court building on Parkwood Boulevard had at least 40 people Monday, most of whom were displaced from Hurricane Florence in other affected areas, officials said.
Road closures as of Monday include
• Sadie Road between Leonard Road and N.C. 42, Wilson
• Revell Road, cross streets of Exum and Boyette roads, Lucama
• North Railroad Street due to high water at N.C. 222, Kenly
• U.S. 301 South, cross street Black Walnut Road, Lucama
• U.S. 301 South, cross street Newsome Mill Road, Lucama
• Aycock’s Crossing Road, cross street, Newsome Mill Road
• Little Rock Church Road at cross street at Mabry Road, Lucama
• Alton Road, Lucama
• Glory Road, at cross street Blalock Road, Lucama
• Morningside Road, cross street N.C. 117A, Black Creek
• Morningside Road, cross street Frank Price Church Road, Black Creek
• Frank Price Church Road at bridge, Black Creek
• Cemetery Street, Wilson
• N.C. 222, Stantonsburg
• 6411 Phillips St.,cross street at N.C. 222, Stantonsburg
• Piney Grove Church Road, Saratoga
• Scott Church Road, cross street St. Mary’s Church Road, Lucama
• Wiggins Mill Road, cross street Radford Road, Lucama
• St. Rose Church Road, cross street Wiggins Mill Road, Lucama
• St. Rose Church Road, cross street Old Raleigh Road, Rock Ridge
• St. Rose Church Road, cross street Mamie Road, Rock Ridge
• Downing Street, U.S. 264 to Forest Hills, Wilson
• Smallwood Street, cross street Cockran Street, Wilson
• Wilson Street SW, near Belmont Avenue
• Lodge Street from Meadow to Norfolk
• Mercer Street from Banks Street to Park Drive
• Park Avenue, closed from Beacon to Park Drive
• Ripley Road, cross street Pinewood Drive
• Ripley Road, cross street Clyde and Salem Drive
• Canal Drive at Woodland Drive
• Kincaid Avenue at Canal Drive
• Vance Street, cross street Lucas Street
• Lawndale Drive, cross street Corbett Drive
• Fairfax Avenue at Ward Boulevard
• Manchester Street at Wainwright Street
LAKE LEVELS AS OF MONDAY
• Lake Wilson’s level is at 2.6 feet overflow and is expected to crest Monday night.
• Buckhorn is currently at 1 foot, 4 inches overflow with high flow, but nothing near Hurricane Matthew or Hurricane Floyd levels, city officials said.
• The dam at Wiggins Mill is at 5 feet overflow. Water is in the parking lot near the pump station, which was operating normally as of Monday afternoon, said Rebecca Agner, city of Wilson spokeswoman. Wiggins Mill is expected to peak either late Tuesday or early Wednesday.
• Toisnot is flooded in the local area and park.
Agner said the information provided is based on the current forecast without any rain for the next few days.