09/04/06 — Some roads in Duplin still closed, but waters going down

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Some roads in Duplin still closed, but waters going down

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on September 4, 2006 1:52 PM

Water on the roadways in Duplin County is receding, but cleanup and rescue crews are still assisting where needed, including a local team deployed to help in Pender County, officials said this morning.

Several roads remain closed by the Department of Transportation, said Capt. Stanley Jones of the Duplin County Sheriff's Dept. this morning.

N.C. 41 has caused the most concern, he noted, especially in segments where rushing water crossed the roadway. Flooding on secondary roads also created problems.

Officials are doing their part to clearly mark impassable areas and divert traffic to safer roads, Jones said. But that isn't necessarily easy when it means keeping drivers off the main roads.

"Highway 41 is a very well-traveled road in our county. We're asking (motorists) to take alternate routes," he said. "We're also asking vacationers, those that are traveling through our county and might not have been following the news, to be very aware and obey the 'road closed' signs."

On the section of I-40 that runs parallel to Duplin County, signs have been erected advising travelers to take an alternate road, he said.

There was also a washout in the area of Chinquapin River Bridge, although not by the bridge itself, Jones said, but beyond it on the south side of Chinquapin.

"DOT is in the process of getting it where they can repair it," he said.

Officers have also been posted at some points assisting and directing traffic, he added.

"We have some areas that are very heavily flooded, like Deep Bottom Road, off at N.C. 41. It's marked well. DOT has that very secure."

N.C. 24 and N.C. 11, meanwhile, are open, Jones said. And rescue personnel have been successful in removing people from their homes and responding to calls for assistance.

"We're hoping to recover, and it looks like we're on the road to do it," Jones said.

Major flooding continues on the northeast Cape Fear River at Burgaw, which is expected to crest later today. Many roads have been closed and residents have been forced to evacuate. Fire and rescue personnel have responded and received assistance from other departments across the state.

The Arr-Mac water response team was deployed Sunday afternoon to aid in the Burgaw area of northern Pender County. Eleven representatives from the Arrington Bridge and Mar-Mac fire departments as well as the Sheriff's Office, took two boats and rescue equipment to help residents in the area along the Cape Fear River, said Bill Harrell, chief of the Mar Mac Fire Department.

Harrell said he expected the team to return to Wayne County tonight or sometime Tuesday. So far, he said, they had reported aid had been given to about two dozen residents.

"They're going up and down the tributaries that go into the Cape Fear River," he said.

When members checked in this morning, Harrell said they told him "things are going good."

The group, some cross-trained as divers, try to stay prepared to assist where needed, he said.

"We met during the storm to see who could go if somebody called us up," he said. "Any time something like that comes up, they put us on standby, so we're ready to go."

Chief Walter Scott, commanding officer at Northeast Fire Department in Duplin County, said evacuations there ceased as of early Sunday morning. The Swiftwater Rescue Team from Charlotte was released to return home on Saturday afternoon, he said.

"Everything's under control," he said this morning. "The water has started receding, so basically our fire department was on standby for anybody that needed help."

He said things now are in "slow-down mode." Northeast Road is still covered and impassable and law enforcement has blocked and closed other roads in the county. Where possible, residents are starting to go back to assess damages to their homes and property.

"We went back to some folks' houses to get medications they'd left behind or to do animal rescue," he said. "And we have been in contact with Red Cross for some families who need a place to stay or food, etc."