By: Chris Long
Hurricane Matthew may not have made direct landfall on North Carolina, but it had direct effects on the Tar Heel State. Saturday, October 8, was one of the wettest days in North Carolina history. Pick any spot east of Raleigh and anywhere from 5 to 15 inches of rain fell. That produced flooding in and of itself. The airport in Fayetteville reported 14 inches of rain, and RDU reported 6.45 inches. That caused a first round of flooding in areas where the rainfall was heaviest and where rivers and streams commonly flood. Crabtree Creek in Raleigh for example, rose from 6 feet to 22.7 feet in 24 hours. The rapid rise of water caused extensive flooding in and around Crabtree Valley Mall in Raleigh. The water overtook much of the first floor of the mall’s parking garage and reached the intersection of Creedmoor and Glenwood avenues. Those roads reopened only a day later, but many other areas, especially those downstream, were only beginning to feel the effects of Matthew.
In order for all that rainwater to drain back to the ocean, the water must flow east through the state’s river system. This caused some rivers in eastern North Carolina to not peak until late last week. Multiple large communities were evacuated due to the rising waters. One of the worst hit communities was Lumberton. Located in Robeson County, the town, home to over 21,000 people was nearly under water, and, even now, flood waters remain inside some people’s homes. Residents that were not evacuated from Lumberton have been completely cut off from the rest of civilization. Power is out in most of the town and not expected to return for many weeks, and water and food is running low.
In Greenville, home to East Carolina University, the waters of the Neuse River crested Wednesday afternoon at 29.7 feet. This crest marks the highest that the river has ever been measured, beating records set by Hurricanes Floyd and Fran. The river is expected to remain at major flood stage until Sunday night. Due to this, ECU closed for all of last week and remained closed on Monday. Other areas that crested above the record was the Neuse River in Goldsboro and Smithfield and the Lower Little River in Littleton.
The effects also hit closer to home. Strong winds and heavy rain saturated the ground which led to many down trees and power lines in Wake County. The county was hit so hard that many schools didn’t have power two days after the storm, and school was canceled for that reason on Monday. In Wake Forest, all roads were back open by Sunday afternoon except for Rogers Road where part of the road completely washed out. Now people who live in the Rolesville part of heritage must take a detour to reach Heritage High School. As far as the bridge replacement farther down on Rogers Road, the town says that the project remains on schedule.
Now, as efforts shift from rescues to recovery, many organizations around the area have begun to help the victims, supplying food and water to those who need it the most. At Heritage, National Honor Society (NHS) is conducting a food drive for those affected by Matthew. For students in NHS, each bag of food counts as a half-an-hour of school sponsored service, however all students are encouraged to bring in food to help people in our community who are in need.