Gum Neck dike does not meet flood insurance standards

Published 11:45 am Wednesday, May 6, 2020

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The Tyrrell County Board of Commissioners were scheduled to hold a public hearing Tuesday afternoon on amendments to the county’s Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance.

State officials have recommended a four-foot “freeboard” rule to apply to all new construction, which means a vertical separation of four feet between the official flood elevation as shown on the map and the lowest floor or ductwork of the structure. The current law in Tyrrell County is one-foot separation.

A recent report by state Emergency Management officials revealed that the Gum Neck dike, constructed in 1968, is not high enough in two places to meet current standards. One place, on the south side of the dike, was brought up to standard by adding additional dirt, said building inspector Joie Spencer.

The other isn’t so easy to fix. NC Hwy 94 is a part of the dike for some distance either direction from Cherry Seed Farms at Jones Road, and the state officials said NODOT has declined to raise the road surface.

Hal Bateman, chairman of the Gum Neck Drainage District board, said Monday that the former chairman, Ken Cherry, had conversations last year with NCDOT about elevating the roadway, but nothing specific was decided pending publication of the new guidelines that will show how much the road must be raised to meet standards.

The drainage district has had the entire earthen dike measured and replenished it where needed to five feet above flood plain, the existing standard, Bateman said.

Draignage district board members are Bateman, chairman, Michael Clements and Hank Rose Sr. Kaye Cahoon Phelps is district treasurer.

Members are recommended by property owners in the district and appointed to three-year terms by the clerk of Superior Court.