Lenoir County leaders urge caution as floodwaters continue to rise

Local

KINSTON, N.C. (WNCT) — It’s been nearly a week since heavy storms swamped North Carolina, but there are areas in the eastern part of the state just now seeing the impact of all that water.

The impact is being felt especially along the Neuse River in Kinston.

“Whenever you start to see water rise, it’s a top-of-mind issue,” said Rep. Chris Humphrey.

Lenoir County is no stranger to flooding as the area has been hit hard by several storms in the past, including Hurricane Matthew and Hurricane Florence.

“We are starting to see an increase, about every two years we’re having a flooding issue,” said Jerri King, Lenoir County Emergency Services Director.

Leaders said this is Lenoir County’s fourth big flooding event since 2016.

“We flooded here enough that we’re trying to keep the spotlight on the issue,” said Humphrey.

Humphrey says it’s difficult to keep his Raleigh colleagues’ attention on flooding and mitigation plans for his hometown.

“Unfortunately, like a lot of other things that go on in government, when it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind,” said Humphrey.

Earlier this year, the General Assembly passed House Bill 200, to provide funds for mitigation. Humphrey said putting a stop to the flooding will take a lot of work.

“The government can’t do it all,” said Humphrey. “We’re going to need to partner with some private landowners, consultants and engineers who can better assist.”

Local leaders said the current flooding won’t have the same impact as seen from Florence and Matthew.

“At this point, it’s Mother Nature, but we are trying to see what can be done to try and minimize the impact in the future,” said King.

However, the same safety rules always apply.

“If there is a road closed sign, or a barricade up, don’t venture,” said King. “Don’t go around it because there will be water somewhere around it.”

King also told WNCT because of FEMA buyouts and other state and local mitigation efforts, a smaller number of homes and businesses are facing the direct impacts of flooding.

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