Carolina Beach using flood sensors to create warning system on Canal Drive

Published: Apr. 18, 2022 at 3:56 PM EDT
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CAROLINA BEACH, N.C. (WECT) - The town of Carolina Beach is partnering with researchers at NC State and the UNC Chapel Hill to study flooding on one of the town’s most-impacted roads.

Carolina Beach and researchers have applied for funding through NC Sea Grant to help the town figure out the root causes of flooding along Canal Drive, especially during King Tides, storm-related tides, and excessive rainfall.

A previous study found that one of the causes of flooding along the road is water backing up through storm drains.

Now, the town is working with Katherine Anarde and Miyuki Hino of the Sunny Day Flooding Project to use sensors and establish an early-warning system for flood conditions so town officials, residents, and visitors can plan to stay safe during storms.

“We’re seeing up and down the Carolina coast and really all around the U.S., flooding is happening much more frequently due to sea level rise,” Hino said.

Hino adds that the goal of this research is to find out what exactly is causing the flooding along canal drive so they can figure out how much is due to tides compared to rain or already-full storm drains.

“When before it might’ve taken a hurricane, now it just takes a particularly high tide and you’ve got water in the streets and all sorts of things that are inundated that shouldn’t be,” said Hino.

Carolina Beach Planning and Development Director Jeremy Hardison says technology like this is unlike anything the town has had to address flooding concerns in the past.

“Nothing of this detail and to know exactly because that’s the number one source of the flooding. It’s coming up for the storm drains, we know that,” Hardison said. “So, if we know how much actual water is standing in our storm drains are where it’s at versus where the tide waters are, that is a tremendous amount of information that we did not have before.”

Hardison says members of the public will be able to access the real-time data, too. Researches hope it will help guide the community to adapt their stormwater systems for the future.

“With that information we want to get that out to the residents so they can better prepare themselves and to know that way we can have somebody just pick up their phone [and] they can see a picture of Canal Drive,” said Hardison. “They can see existing conditions, they can see what we’re looking at in the next hour or two.”

The researchers goals include to develop a flood model that accounts for tides, rain, wind, and stormwater systems throughout the Canal Drive area of Carolina Beach.

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