Harrellsville on an island; HC curfew remains in place

Published 9:41 am Tuesday, October 11, 2016

As it turns out, Floyd has a son. His name is Matthew.

Hurricane Floyd in 1999 has long served as the measuring stick locally when tropical systems pay a visit and dump buckets of rain across the Roanoke-Chowan region.

It appears in the wake of the flooding rains and heavy winds this past weekend, Hurricane Matthew will go down in history of coming close to matching Floyd’s fury.

“Matthew is at Floyd’s level, perhaps worse,” said Hertford County Emergency Management Director Chris Smith as he was surveying damage on Monday. “I’ve actually seen water in places from Matthew that I didn’t see during Hurricane Floyd.”

A nightly curfew (7 p.m. until 7 a.m. daily) remains in effect for Hertford County until further notice as the county is still operating under a State of Emergency.

Also, all Hertford County Public Schools are closed again today (Tuesday). It is not known when students will return to classes as issues remain with road flooding as well as road washouts in some areas of the county.

The Hertford County Government Center is also closed today, meaning Criminal District Court is cancelled.

Smith said the county’s typical low-lying areas suffered from flash flooding during and just after the storm, that arrived in earnest on Saturday and dumped eight to ten inches of rain until the wee hours of Sunday morning.

“The forecast said we would receive between five to seven inches, and I thought to myself at that time that we should be able to handle that much rain without any serious problems,” Smith said. “But then, due to the storm changing its projected path and coming further up our coast than expected before turning out to sea, we wind up with eight to ten inches, and our ground, still recovering from three days of rain just a couple of weeks ago, just couldn’t handle all that water at once.”

In his wake, Matthew left the Town of Harrellsville on a proverbial island. Flooding on NC 45 and NC 561 as well as the Quebec Road, all of which funnel traffic in and out of Harrellsville, cut the town off from the rest of the county.

On Monday, several boat loads of supplies needed for Harrellsville residents were ferried across a flooded section of NC 45 near the Wiccacon River bridge.

“We had a high clearance vehicle at our disposal to assist in such cases, but the water was so high that it couldn’t be used to get those needed supplies to Harrellsville,” Smith stressed. “So we went to plan B, which was using a boat.”

Compounding matters is the fact that electrical power was severed to Harrellsville.

Meanwhile, other parts of Hertford County suffered severe flooding, so much to the point that water rescues were performed.

Smith stated those rescues/evacuations were performed in the areas of the Wiccacon River and near the Meherrin River at Leisure Shores (Marshall Drive and Morgan Drive) off Ebo Road.

“We also have gone door-to-door, sometimes by boat, in our hardest hit areas to check on our citizens,” Smith said.

Evacuations were also performed in a flooded neighborhood off US 13 south of Ahoskie, to include DT Road.

Additionally, rescues of motorists stranded by the fast rising waters on Saturday night were performed by the Hertford County Sheriff’s Office on Saludia Hall Road, and by the Murfreesboro Fire Department (on Pinetops Road).

On Monday there were 30 roads in the county that remained impassable due to floodwaters and/or washouts.

Smith said the Ahoskie Creek also impacted its namesake as damage occurred to businesses along NC 42 in the town. The town’s amphitheater, park and ballfields remained under water Monday afternoon after the creek crested early Monday morning at 15.74 feet.

The Potecasi Creek was still slowly rising on Sunday and Monday, forcing the closure of the NC 11 bridge (Ahoskie-Murfreesboro highway). That creek was also to blame for damage to Beechwood Country Club as well as flooding of residential property there.

At Beechwood, the outbuildings at the home of Angie Lilley were flooded or submerged. Her chicken house was flooded, with several chickens clinging to life after she got them to a dry spot on her front porch. Her house was surrounded by floodwaters, but she said the water did not come inside. People had told her the water was receding, but she said at 1 p.m. on Monday it looked deeper to her.

On Monday afternoon, the Potecasi Creek measured 26.37 feet at the NC 11 bridge. That is just under the record of 28.9 feet during Hurricane Floyd.

“My work really begins now,” said Smith. “After a busy weekend of rescues, evacuations and trying to keep up with all the road closures due to the flash flooding, now the damage assessment begins.”



About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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