09/26/06 — Officials say no way to stop flooding

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Officials say no way to stop flooding

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on September 26, 2006 1:49 PM

No amount of engineering can prevent a hurricane from flooding Stoney Creek and its surrounding areas, city officials told residents and business owners Monday.

Even so, officials said efforts to construct a pond in the flood plain and put the meander back in the Neuse tributary will help alleviate flash flooding during less catastrophic rain events.

The meeting at Herman Park Center Monday came about as a result of concerns expressed by business owners and others after the flooding that occurred in the wake of Tropical Storm Ernesto. The residents and business owners said they are concerned that a plan to build a park near Stoney Creek will be nothing more than a chance for more water issues.

Chad Evenhouse, a representative from Kimley-Horn and Associates, told the more than a dozen residents in attendance that stream restoration plans and construction of a pond would help, but not completely remedy flood concerns.

"What we're trying to do is improve the stream's ability to handle smaller rain events," he said. "During an extreme flood event, this whole thing is going to be under water. With that said, we want Stoney Creek to be able to use the flood plain where it can."

Currently, the creek is "fighting" to get back to its natural form, one that was altered decades ago.

"When we talk about stream restoration, we're really trying to stabilize the banks and eliminate some of that erosion," Evenhouse said. "There are a lot of natural things streams do to eliminate flooding. Those things were undone when the stream was straightened. It wants to be the way it was historically. There are spots where you can see the stream is trying to bang its way back and forth to get back to that bend."

The restoration project, he added, aims to put the natural bend back into the stream and add vegetation on eroded banks to soak up some of the water that causes flooding during typical thunderstorms and other minor rain events.

Some residents needed more convincing.

Don Callahan said he was worried that the plan might not work and could lead to more flooding in the area.

"How do we know what you're going to do is going to work?" he asked. "Is there a possibility the flooding could get worse? If the water comes in anymore, we're going to be flooded again."

Evenhouse said neither the state nor local government would allow work to be done that would exacerbate the problem.

"We believe we will help," he said. "But you should understand that a lot of the flood problems, a lot of that has to do with location. That's such a high flow sometimes, we wouldn't be able to stop it. But what we do want is just enough vegetation so the stream can hold on."

Construction of the proposed six-acre lake might also help prevent flooding, Evenhouse added.

"By building a pond, what that will do is it will help," Evenhouse said. "We want to take some of that flood water out and run it to the pond. We're not going to store a huge flood event in that pond. But it will take in some water."

Some residents said they were concerned that in the event of a hurricane, having a pond would just add more water to flood their land with.

"We aren't going to create danger for you and your property," Evenhouse told them. "We're not going to build up that flood plain. What's going to happen is ... as soon as we get any rain, it's going to go into the pond ... any excess water will travel through a buffer of vegetation and finally into Stoney Creek.

"Once again, we are not saying we can control that entire watershed," he added. "The work we're doing isn't going to help during a Hurricane Fran event. This is maybe for the six inches we got last week."