Flood Studies Identify Ways to Better Protect Communities Hit Hard by Hurricane Matthew Reports offer strategies to prevent future flood damage along Lumber, Neuse and Tar rivers

Raleigh

State officials today announced the completion of three studies to help prevent flood damage to communities along the Lumber, Neuse and Tar River basins that were hit hard by Hurricane Matthew. 

“Hurricane Matthew devastated communities along our rivers and showed us that we must rebuild better and smarter to withstand future floods,” said Governor Cooper. “Many communities are seeing more frequent and intense floods and we need to help communities plan now.”

Last fall, Governor Cooper directed North Carolina Emergency Management to collaborate with partners including the N.C. Department of Transportation, N.C. State University, East Carolina University and local officials to identify and assess ways to better prepare for and prevent flooding in communities in the Lumber, Neuse and Tar river basins. The studies are now complete and results available online at rebuild.nc.gov. 

The studies of the Lumber, Neuse and Tar River basins announced today determined primary sources and impacts of flooding and identified possible strategies to prevent future flood damage. As part of the analysis, engineers met with community residents and leaders heavily impacted by recent flooding to better understand how various flood levels affected them. Then, the team worked with local and federal partners to assess specific mitigation measures for each river basin.  

The teams determined the most viable options for each river basin and conducted a thorough analysis of benefits, estimated costs and anticipated timeframes for each strategy under a dozen or more likely flood scenarios. 

While each of the river basin studies evaluated different strategies, some common findings emerged: 
•    Property mitigation—elevating, acquiring or relocating existing structures-- is the most cost-effective way to save the largest number of properties in the shortest time. 
•    Further study is needed to evaluate how other communities across the country fund and manage flood mitigation projects.
•    Additional investigation is needed of flood-proofing solutions - especially for commercial and public structures.

About 800 properties across central and eastern North Carolina are already scheduled for elevation, acquisition or relocation via the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program as part of continuing Hurricane Matthew recovery efforts.

 “There is an old axiom about health that also applies to disaster recovery: ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,’” said state Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry. “Taking steps now to reduce flood impacts will help North Carolina bounce back better from future natural disasters ---especially in vulnerable communities along these river basins.”

Lumber River 
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The Lumber River Basin Study looked at communities stretching from Southern Pines through Raeford, Lumberton, Boardman, Fair Bluff and other towns to the coast near the South Carolina border. The study examined three mitigation strategies including new embankments, use of detention facilities and property mitigation of flood-prone homes. 

Study results indicate that property mitigation is the most cost-effective way to save the largest number of properties in the shortest time. Already, Robeson has submitted 141 properties for elevation, acquisition or relocation as part of Hurricane Matthew recovery efforts. 

Neuse River 
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The Neuse River Basin Study examined the stem and tributaries flowing from or into Falls Lake through Smithfield, Goldsboro, Kinston and other communities to New Bern. In addition to the study, the N.C Department of Environmental Quality is cataloging existing information on dam systems and integrating the data into hydrologic and hydraulic models that will help to further evaluate the effectiveness of these dams.

The Neuse River Basin Study looked at five mitigation strategies including new embankments, channel modification, roadway elevation, use of detention facilities and property mitigation of flood-prone homes. Home acquisition and relocation were recommended as the best strategies since elevation would not provide enough protection in many of the areas studied within the Neuse River basin.

Tar River 
Click HERE for study
NCEM, in partnership with NCDOT, conducted a six-month study of the river basin stretching from Roxboro through Oxford, Rocky Mount, Nashville, Tarboro, Princeville, Greenville and other communities to Washington. The study examined four strategies to reduce future flood impacts including river flow diversion, dam removal, detention facilities and property mitigation of flood-prone homes. 
 

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