09/05/06 — Creeks have stopped rising after Ernesto

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Creeks have stopped rising after Ernesto

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on September 5, 2006 1:51 PM

KENANSVILLE -- Several roads in southern and eastern Duplin County remain closed because of high water today, but emergency officials said they do not expect rain predicted for the next several days to push levels higher.

Tropical storm Ernesto dumped 8 to 12 inches of rain on parts of Duplin on Friday, closing a number of secondary roads along with a section of N.C. 41.

The Northeast Cape Fear River flooded but reached its crest at the Chinquapin community at 18.8 feet over the weekend, according to the National Weather Service. That was six feet over flood stage. Predictions called for the river level to drop below flood stage at Chinquapin on Wednesday night.

About 140 people were forced from their homes by the high water, said Duplin Emergency Services Director Craig Forlines. But he said rain Monday night did little to aggravate the situation.

"So far so good. It was very scattered," he said while gathering water level information, which was to be available later in the day. "We're doing damage assessment today, and FEMA will be coming Wednesday or Thursday to do a damage assessment."

The National Weather Service said today that the Northeast Cape Fear should be back beneath flood level by the end of the week, barring any more torrential rains.

The state of emergency declared by Duplin officials on Friday was lifted at midnight Sunday. But portions of Deep Bottom, Durwood Evans and Norwood Blanchard roads still were covered by water early today.

Emergency workers were on stand-by this morning. Forlines said he was expecting only about a half-inch of rain today. Forecasters have called for scattered thunderstorms.

Despite the relaxed fears, Northeast Fire Department Chief Walter Scott said he was taking nothing for granted. He had already had to send one of his boats and a rescue team to Pender County, where flooding also was severe in some areas. The Northeast Cape Fear at the Pender County seat of Burgaw was expected to drop below flood levels late Friday.

Scott said the only thing that emergency officials could do today is wait and see what happens with this week's rain. The chance of rain for the region today was 80 percent, according to the National Weather Service.