Belhaven tackles flood issue

Published 9:36 pm Tuesday, April 15, 2014

BELHAVEN — Chronic flooding in the downtown district of Belhaven has led the town council to take action.

According to Mayor Adam O’Neal, flooding has plagued the area since the town’s establishment in 1899. When the river reaches high tide, the water level rises over the bank of Wynne’s Gut and spills into the road, causing excessive flooding in the streets, in some cases.

“There has always been a train of thought that there was nothing that we could do about it,” O’Neal said. “In fact, there is something we can do about it.”

O’Neal addressed the North Carolina legislature on the issue about five years ago, according to O’Neal.

“I got them to help us get a $200,000 DOT grant to do a study and figure out a solution,” O’Neal said.

O’Neal said that the $200,000 grant paid for the flood mitigation plan which was presented at Monday night’s town council meeting. This is a comprehensive plan to stop flooding on Main Street. Formulated and presented by Moffatt and Nichol, an engineering firm out of Long Beach, Calif., the plan proposes a floodgate to be constructed at the Allen Street bridge in downtown Belhaven. This floodgate would create a basin in which two big pumps would cycle out excess water back into the river.

“Now it doesn’t stop hurricanes,” O’Neal said. “But what we are trying to do is get the chronic flooding on Main Street to stop.”

According to O’Neal, the plan has been vetted through environmental agencies and the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

“Everybody is on board that it is a project that would be permittable and doable,” O’Neal said.

The next step for the proposal includes locating sources of funding, according to O’Neal. The town will now seek grants and funding through a number of agencies and organizations, he said.