City of New Bern begins post- Florence drainage ditch refurbishment


NEW BERN, N.C. (WNCT) — New Bern leaders are taking a look at different ways to prevent storm damage.

During Hurricane Florence homes and businesses across the city took on massive amounts of water.

Tom Faulkaenberry, owner of Tom’s Coins and Antiques, remembers the storm like it was yesterday.

“We had water under our house, about a foot in the garage which was a tremendous amount of water. We’re about a mile from the river,” said Faulkaenberry.

He was lucky.

Some of his friends were not.

“I had a lot of friends that lost a lot. One of my best friends lost pretty much everything. He lost his home and all the contents. It was a mess,” said Faulkaenberry.

The damage from Hurricane Florence was widespread.

“Not only did we have damage to the city with our infrastructure and our houses and developments, we also had a significant amount of damages to our drainage system,” said Matt Montayne, Director of Public Works.

For the past 15 months, city leaders have worked to get a $33 million project with FEMA up and running.

The project will fix over 80 miles of drainage ditches across New Bern.

“Flooding and drainage is huge in New Bern and I think that’s because we’re so close to the river,” said Montayne.

Getting rid of debris, sediment build up, and rebuilding portions of the drainage system is essential.

“When you get a hurricane and you get a significant storm, you have the river that rises to an elevation of 10 or 11 feet. The goal is to get that water out of here as quick as possible,” said Montayne.

On Tuesday night at the New Bern Board of Aldermen meeting, members approved the engineering firm who will complete the first phase of planning and surveying for the project.

That first phase of the project is set to start on January 21st.

Montayne said they hope to start refurbishment efforts in the next six to eight months.

Life long residents like Faulkaenberry said it makes them hopeful to see the city making these kind of improvements.

“I’m glad to see them being proactive in doing this because a lot of areas flooded that didn’t need to flood. The more drainage we can get in place and the better drainage we can get in place the better off New Bern is going to be in the future,” said Faulkaenberry.

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