Flooding widespread; Pamlico River above minor flood stage

Published 12:45 pm Saturday, October 8, 2016

Flooding associated with Hurricane Matthew poses the greatest danger to Beaufort County and other areas along rivers in eastern North Carolina, according to the National Weather Service office in Newport.

Beaufort County is under a tornado watch and a flash-flood warning until further notice.

That flooding likelihood is getting the attention of area emergency-management officials, including John Pack, Beaufort County’s emergency-management director. At Washington, the Pamlico River was 5.02 feet above normal at 7 p.m. Saturday, with the river level continuing to rise. Flood stage at Washington is 4.5 feet. When the river reaches 4 feet above normal, state, county and city officials are urged to take action to minimize flooding effects, according the NWS’s Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service.

As of 1 p.m. Saturday, there were no reported storm-related deaths or injuries in Beaufort County, Pack said.

“No major power outages — maybe some onesies and twosies. No tree-limb debris out there right now,” Pack said early Saturday afternoon. “We do have roads covered with water in multiple places.”

Beginning Saturday and continuing into this week, Pack’s office is keeping a close watch on river flooding triggered by heavy rainfall and storm surge during the weekend. “We will transition into flooding, but right now it’s safety. That’s our No. 1 priority,” Pack said Saturday.

The following waterways are expected to reach major flood stage in coming days: Tar River at Greenville, Neuse River at Kinston and Contentnea Creek at Hookerton. Those waterways are expected to crest several feet above their flood levels around Wednesday or Thursday, according to NWS data. The Tar River at Greenville is expected to crest at 20.2 feet Thursday. Major flood stage at Greenville is 19 feet.

“This event has the potential to create a once-in-a-lifetime flooding levels for some areas,” according to an NWS briefing. “Many rivers could flood to major flood levels. This could be the worst flooding seen in eastern North Carolina since Hurricane Floyd. The most-vulnerable locations for major flooding are where rivers drain into sounds, according to the NWS office in Newport.

Forecasters predict Matthew will be east-southeast of Wilmington at 8 a.m. Monday. By that time, Matthew likely will be a tropical storm, according to NWS.

As of 1:30 p.m. Saturday, buses transporting people to shelters in Beaufort County stopped running because of high winds. About 40 people were in the two shelters — Southside High School and P.S. Jones Middle School — about 6 p.m. Saturday.

Motorists who deliberately drive through flooded streets in Washington can be ticketed for careless-and-reckless driving. A fine of up to $500 can be imposed, and anyone receiving such a citation must appear in court.

The city ordinance prohibiting driving through flooded streets was enacted to prevent wakes from vehicles damaging property and to prevent vehicles from stalling in floodwaters and causing public-safety problems.


Reported closings, delays due to Hurricane Matthew:

First Presbyterian Church, Washington – Sunday services cancelled.

Wayside Presbyterian Church, Chocowinity – Sunday services cancelled.

Covenant Church, Washington – Sunday services cancelled; online stream/Winterville service still on.

First Free Will Baptist Church, Washington – Sunday services cancelled.

St. Peter Baptist Church Ministries, Aurora – 8 a.m. Sunday service cancelled.

First United Methodist Church, Washington – Sunday services cancelled.

Five Points Free Will Baptist Church, Washington – Sunday services cancelled.

Old Ford Church of Christ, Washington – Sunday services cancelled.

First Church of Christ, Washington – Sunday services cancelled.

First Baptist Church, Chocowinity – Sunday services cancelled.

First Baptist Church, Washington — all Sunday events cancelled.

Pamlico Dialysis, Washington — closed Saturday.

Beaufort County Community College — closed through weekend.

Smyrna Original Free Will Baptist Church – Sunday services cancelled.

First Christian Church, Washington – Sunday services cancelled.

Wine and Design, Washington – closed Saturday night through Sunday.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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