Whiteville continues work on flood mitigation four years after Hurricane Florence

Whiteville continues work on flood mitigation four years after Hurricane Florence
Published: Sep. 14, 2022 at 4:24 PM EDT
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WHITEVILLE, N.C. (WECT) - Cities and towns are still trying to rebuild four years after Hurricane Florence brought record rain and flooding to southeastern North Carolina.

In Whiteville, Emergency Services Director Hal Lowder stood along South Madison to reflect on how far the town’s main road has come since being inundated with water four years ago.

“It looks a whole lot different than it did during Florence,” Lowder said. “Actually, where we are right now, we had to fly drones in here to actually see some of the businesses and do damage assessments. We had people in here kayaking up and down this street.”

To make sure Whiteville never sees the same devastation it saw during Florence again, the city is taking steps to reduce flood impacts. The city has partnered with the North Carolina State University Coastal Design Lab to develop flood mitigation strategies.

“They have taken a lot of measurements, they’ve gathered a lot of data, and we had a meeting last night where we’re going to have some increased buyouts and try to increase some green zones and that kind of thing,” said Lowder.

Once they collect information about the best way to reduce floodwater impacts, the city will try to obtain funding to make those plans a reality.

As he reflects on his personal experience with Florence, Lowder notes he is one of hundreds still feeling the impacts of the storm responsible for claiming 42 lives in North Carolina and leaving behind $22 billion in damages.

“I am in the rebuild North Carolina program and my house has not been repaired from Florence,” he said. “We still have some people that are living not at home and not in their communities and they’re waiting on some of this FEMA money that trickled down and money that’s coming through other areas.”

NC State is working to solve similar flooding problems in Carolina Beach, another area that felt some of the strongest impacts from Florence.