It’s been nearly six days since Hurricane Matthew made landfall in Charleston County, S.C. and the tropical storm’s atmospheric remnants have long since dissipated into the Atlantic Ocean, leaving blue skies across Eastern North Carolina for the better part of the week.
In some cities across the east, displaced residents are beginning to get an idea of their losses as the river levels ease off, but in Kinston officials, business and homeowners are bracing for the riverside city’s toughest test in recorded history.
Preparations for flooding events along the Neuse River began even before the rain arrived, as crews cleared storm drains in anticipation of the first October hurricane to strike the Carolina coast since 1954. Every day this week volunteers have gone door to door in neighborhoods expected to flood to warn about the rising water, but it was clear Thursday morning that time was beginning to run out for those evacuating.
More than 150 community members stood within feet of the rising Neuse River waters at Tiffany West Park during a prayer gathering and call to action. “Where you’re standing is going to be underwater,” Mayor B.J. Murphy told those gathered.
The Neuse crept up during the group prayers of more than 150 community members gathered at Tiffany West Park Thursday morning before Mayor B.J. Murphy and council members Felicia Solomon and Robert Swinson gave the latest update: 29 feet.
Flood stage is 14 feet for the Neuse, which begins in Durham County and empties into the Pamlico Sound near New Bern. “Floyd stage” — the record set during Hurricane Floyd in 1999 — is 27.7. By 9 p.m. Thursday the river was at 27.92 and still expected to pick up another foot before finally cresting, although levels are expected to stay near 26 feet through at least Monday, Oct. 17. Continue reading