Fearing future storm damage, committee works to fix Bladen Co. dike

Fearing future storm damage, committee works to fix Bladen Co. dike

KELLY, NC (WECT) - In parts of Bladen County, there’s still water leftover from Hurricane Florence nearly one month after the storm swept through the area.

The leftover water is thanks in part to the White Oak Dike breaching after floodwaters broke through the barrier and destroyed parts of roads and homes.

Neighbors there said the dike hadn’t failed them in more than 70 years. The Friendship Creek Dike Committee has been working to fix parts of the dike, but committee members said the process had been stalled because they haven’t had the money to fix it.

Richard Smith is one of the residents that has been working to fix the dike. He said they dodged a bullet with Michael, but worries about future storms.

“We’ve always experienced pretty safe water protection all the time but now we’ll see water coming in the community that probably would be moderate flood stage and before we would never see it go atop that dike. We’re trying to get it fixed we’re going to work on getting this thing fixed,” he said.

The dike breached in as many as nine spots along its 15 miles. The destruction turned grassy areas into lakes and sandy beaches.

The committee is working with Bladen County leaders to make repairs. They said the destruction Florence left was hard for anyone to ignore.

“So many people moved in here didn’t have a clue about this dike or what it’s done for the community and it’s opened a lot of people’s eyes and I think we’ll get something done now,” Charles Russ said.

“It was been built 50 some years ago. A lot of people didn’t realize what the purpose of the dike is they didn’t realize the length of the dike,” Smith said.

“They didn’t realize the protection meant to them. I think this will bring it to their attention. They can see that it’s a problem and that we need to attend to it and it’s going to be worked out,” Smith said.

The committee is working with county leaders to make repairs. County leaders will talk over the tax and other ways to pay for repairs in the next few months.

The committee hopes to reinstate a tax that would help pay for repairs. An engineer is coming to inspect the dike Wednesday.

Russ said one of the biggest questions they have for the engineer is if the sand that the dike was made of can be replaced by a material more durable.

The dike was built in 1945 and rebuilt in 1962.

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