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Leland aims to clear clogged creeks to prevent flooding

Published: Aug. 3, 2021 at 2:57 PM EDT
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LELAND, N.C. (WECT) - Three years after Hurricane Florence, some communities are still dealing with the impacts. Each time it rains, roads and backyards turn into puddles, but the town is putting an end to it.

The project has been in the works for about a year, but work is finally underway just in time for another round of storms and potential flash flooding this week.

“We’ve got Jackeys Creek, Sturgeon Creek and then there are two other unnamed tributaries in town limits,” said project manager Will Lear. “One is off of Village Road and the other is over behind the Piggly Wiggly.”

Crews spent several weeks clearing out debris from those creeks. Much of that debris was left behind after flooding from Florence. After that storm, many homes were underwater. When the waters receded it dumped loads of debris into creekbeds creating ongoing flooding problems for neighbors.

“It has affected quite a bit of folks in the town limits,” said Lear. “That’s our main goal, to go in and do this project so that hopefully, we can minimize the effects of this happening in the future.”

To help pay for the cleanup, the town received a USDA grant last year. It’s been a slow process as the town had to advertise and accept bids, find the right contractor for the job and finally get crews in the water to start clearing the debris.

“It was obviously a tremendous amount of windblown damage to the trees,” said operations manager for Grillot Construction Jason Cox. “A lot of snags and trees of various sizes, too. We removed trees of upwards of 80 inches in diameter.”

Much of the work was finished within the last month. Crews with Grillot Construction waded in in waist-high waters stretching nearly three miles to pull out loads of limbs and branches that were preventing the flow of water and causing the creeks to easily flood instead of draining properly.

“I’ve already looked at some of the areas that have already been cleaned out to take a look at the water flow before and after,” said Lear. “I’ve noticed a significant improvement in the water flow already in the areas we’ve taken debris out of. That’s the goal, to keep water moving in the right direction as opposed to going in people’s backyards.”

The work isn’t done yet. Although those creeks are no longer flooding developments like Magnolia Greens, at least one area still needs some attention. Crews will return in the near future to stabilize the banks of the creek that runs behind those homes to prevent debris from washing back in.

The original plan was for this project to wrap up by the end of the year, but Lear tells me that things have gone so smoothly that it will likely be finished even sooner. As long as things keep moving the way they are, both Lear and Cox expect the project to wrap up in October.

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