New Report: Hyde & Tyrrell Counties at highest risk in the country for flooding

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SWAN QUARTER, N.C. (WNCT) – Flooding is nothing new in Hyde County but a report released today is shedding some new light on it. Published in the journal Nature Climate Change, the report looked into how people will be affected by flooding driven by sea level rise in the future.

Jason Evans, an assistant professor of environmental science at Stetson University and co-author of the report, says this: “What are the future costs? What are the future risks to humans and property? And so we really wanted to look at not just what is on the ground now but what is going to be built in the future.”

The report finds that Hyde and Tyrrell Counties are among the top 3 in the nation with the highest countywide population at risk for flooding. In Swan Quarter, a 17 mile dike system has done its job.

“The last phase of the dike was completed in 2011, and since that we have not had flooding within the village which was a welcome change,” says Kris Cahoon Noble, Hyde County Director of Economic Development & Planning.

But it’s a different story outside the dike for the rest of the county. Agriculture is the number one industry in Hyde County. Saltwater intrusion on farmland has been a problem since people started settling here. Saltwater draws water from crops and releases key nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen…making them unavailable to the plant. But that’s just one problem the county faces. Hyde County Commissioners recently decided to move forward with a plan to lower water levels across the county. Part of the plan includes clearing out four major drainage ditches off Lake Mattamuskeet.

“Cleaning those major drainage outlets will enhance that drainage capacity and get that water off of our land,” says Noble.

It’s a major problem that unfortunately doesn’t have an easy solution. County officials plan to continue working with residents on the best ways to lower their risk.

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