Frustration appeared to fuel the questions last Thursday night during the second of three Hurricane Matthew disaster planning meetings.

Held at Wayne Community College, the session was to have focused on construction, review and feedback on the first draft of resilient planning strategies.

However, like the first session held earlier in March, the nearly 40 attending the meeting instead zeroed in on buyouts, house elevations, grant programs and insurance.

It was only in the closing minutes of the two-hour meeting that the residents were asked if they had any questions other than on housing since the planning process is also looking at infrastructure, environment and economic development.

Goldsboro has a drainage problem, and many people were affected by Hurricane Matthew-generated flooding because of poor drainage, one resident said.

The ditches are there, but are choked with trees and limbs or are filled in, he said.

The city has submitted a "bunch" of projects related to infrastructure including an assessment and geographic information systems mapping of all its drainage structures and stormwater infrastructure, said Cindy Comacho, a consultant with AECOM that is conducting the meetings.

"That is one of their top priority projects," she said.

"That is correct," said Octavius Murphy, assistant to the city manager. "We do recognize that the ditches are just not flowing through. We have these limbs and trees, and that is one of the projects that we have submitted in this whole resilient development plan.

"It is our goal to submit maybe 15 to 20 different projects. There are five or six ditches, large ditches, that are involved in that same experience. We are aware of that."

Several residents said had they had heard that the flooding was exacerbated because water had been released from Falls Lake in Raleigh.

They did appear convinced otherwise when Mel Powers, Wayne County Office of Emergency Services director, and Ryan Cox with N.C. Emergency Management told them no water had been released.

Powers said releasing water from the lake would not have contributed to the height of the floodwaters, but rather would have meant the floodwaters would have lingered for weeks instead of just several days.

The residents also asked about ensuring there was a sufficient reservoir space to hold excess water at Falls Lake and that the dam be maintained.

Powers said the initial flash flooding during the storm was caused by the 17 inches of rain that fell in parts of the county.

The Neuse River flooding that followed was caused by all of the rain that fell to the west of the county as it moved downriver through Smithfield, Clayton and Wayne County all the way to the coast, he said.

One woman said certain areas always flood, and that she thought something could be built to prevent that from happening.

"There are some monies that are coming into play that we are hoping to tap into," Powers said. "Now we can start cleaning the Neuse and some of the tributaries, start dredging it out. Everybody should understand, the Neuse River is actually categorized as navigable waters. It is under the control of the Coast Guard.

"At one time you could actually pull boats into Wayne County. But over the years with floods and hurricanes, now we have all of these sandbars because it fills up. Now where does the water go? It goes out."

Powers was asked if money for that project would come from the same funding sources as that for the buyouts, home elevations and mitigation.

It does not, he said.

The county is trying to secure both state and federal funds to make the river deeper by dredging, he said.

"We are hoping if we can get this done, and get the clean out and dredging done, we would think it is going to help us out with that part of it," Powers said. "It is not going to help us with the flash flooding."

"I think ultimately this is what this product (plan) is about -- trying to find ways to prevent future flooding," said Christine Graziano, who is the lead AECOM planner for the county.

It is also to make the county more resilient, and to address bigger picture issues, Ms. Comacho said.

The meetings are being co-hosted by Wayne County and N.C. Emergency Management and conducted by consultants with AECOM, a global infrastructure firm, the state contracted with to manage the planning process for N.C. Emergency Management.

The legislature authorized the Disaster Recovery Act of 2016 that includes some funding to go into the 50 most-impacted counties, and to try to come up with resilient development plans.

AECOM has been assigned to the 25 most-impacted counties which include Wayne County.

The plan looks at four areas -- housing, economic development, infrastructure and environment.

It will be delivered to the General Assembly by May 1.

For more information, contact Bel Marquez at 919-415-2729 or

Christine Graziano, who is the lead AECOM planner for the county, can be reached at 703-682-9133 or