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New Hanover County plans to address flooding concerns

Updated: Jun. 10, 2021 at 3:04 PM EDT
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NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - After recent rain caused flooding issues along Castle Hayne Road, New Hanover County officials are gearing up to help property owners fix some of their concerns.

The New Hanover County Board of Commissioners approved a Stormwater Services program in December of 2019. The program was supposed to begin in July of 2020 and help with stormwater drainage maintenance through the unincorporated parts of the county.

[Heavy rains cause flooding issues across southeastern North Carolina]

Due to the pandemic, however, fees were not collected from property owners in 2020. Instead, grant money was used, but only to remove debris and damage caused by named storms like hurricanes Florence and Isaias.

In the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2021, the program will begin with teams assembled by the county. According to the county website, funds from the American Rescue Plan will be used to help pay a portion of the fees property owners will pay as part of their taxes.

When the program starts, County Engineer Jim Iannucci says they plan to address areas in Castle Hayne as soon as they can.

“This is an area we identified that some debris needs to be removed,” said Iannucci. “We contract with USDA to get beaver dam’s and things like that eliminated if there’s a drainage blockage and once we remove those blockages and then we can really do maybe an engineering study or some other kind of formal planning document to say ‘hey, what are the long-term improvements that need to be done to improve Castle Hayne.”

Businesses along Castle Hayne Road are in need in help. Some owners say that even just a few inches of rain can completely shut down their business for the day.

“A majority of the businesses around here are fading just like we are during a simple hard downpour which we get quite frequently around here,” said Red Broadhurst, co-owner of Coastal Autoworks. “Driveways, walkways, vehicles are all incapacitated to the point where a business essentially shuts down.”

Broadhurst and his co-owner Ken McDaniel say the flooding has also caused issues for drivers. While several cars were pulled from the water just last week, the autobody shop owners say the floodwaters crept up to their garage during Hurricane Florence.

“Even if people wanted to get here they were having to come in the back entrance and figure out how to come in another way because, I mean, the whole road was pretty much shut down and we’re trying to remove cars that were stuck in a ditch,” said McDaniel.

Iannucci says the he and his team want to help residents from these impacted areas. In the past, before the Stormwater Services program was approved in 2019, Iannucci says property owners were required to pay for their own maintenance in regards to drainage issues and flooding.

“The goal of this program moving forward is to be able to do some of that work and then also do that maintenance on behalf of the residents,” said Iannucci.

The county says it will take time to address all of these issues, however. Iannucci predicts it will take multiple years to fix all of the flooding issues that have come up in recent years.

“This was really never done before so really getting out there and doing the maintenance, doing the things that the grant work wouldn’t cover,” said Iannucci. “Like I said, that would only apply for stuff that was obviously impacted from the storm and so to be able to do that maintenance, get things flowing and then see what we have.”

For more information on the Stormwater Services program, visit New Hanover County’s website.

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