R-C counties qualify for stream cleanup

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 19, 2004

Hurricane Isabel may be long gone, but the effects of this major storm are still being felt throughout the Roanoke-Chowan area.

With its sustained winds of 85 mph-plus, with gusts reaching 100 mph, the storm – which struck on Sept. 18, 2003 – caused considerable damage to the area’s forestland. In turn, those toppled trees landed in streams and drainage canals, resulting in blockages. Those blockages, coupled with heavy rainstorms that have fallen since Isabel’s unwelcome visit, have caused flooding in agricultural fields, roads and residences.

Thanks to the efforts of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, county Soil and Water Districts and Albemarle Resource Conservation, 15 northeastern North Carolina counties are eligible to receive state funds to handle the cost of clearing streams of fallen trees.

According to John Sutherland of the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the General Assembly is expected to allocate $2 million in funding for this project.

A recent survey of the affected areas revealed 220 miles of streams need to be cleaned. The total cost of the project is expected to be in the neighborhood of $3.3 million. The remainder of the state funds will hopefully be included in next year’s budget.

Locally, the four county region of the Roanoke-Chowan area is earmarked to receive $368,000 for this project. That breakdown is as follows:

Bertie County – $64,100.

Gates County – $136,700.

Hertford County – $130,900.

Northampton County – $36,300.

The bulk of the state funds, if approved, will go to the counties of Pasquotank ($434,000), Tyrrell ($324,000), Perquimans ($257,200) and Chowan ($177,700).

Officials stress the need to begin the project in October in order not to disturb the streams during the summer months. Hopefully, the project can be completed by March of next year. For those streams that are popular during the herring run, the work must be done between October and Feb. 15, 2005.

As part of the application process, each county will need to obtain the necessary permits as well as adopting a resolution that allows the County Commissioners to accept responsibility to manage the grant funds. Once passing that resolution, the County Commissioners are in charge of administering the clean-up work within their respective jurisdictions.