Fix to Kelly dike system still in limbo following community conversation


KELLY, NC (WWAY) — It was days after the storm when hundreds of lives were impacted by historic flooding in Kelly. People had to be rescued by helicopter. All as water breached the dike system.

Little has changed and that’s why county leader met tonight with neighbors to talk about it.

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The White Oak Dike is in the hands of the local community. It stretches more than 10 miles and Richard Smith, who owns parts of it, said nine parts of it gave out in the storm.

Floodwaters broke the dike hear off Kelly Cove. (Andrew James/WWAY NEWS)

Rural Kelly has no where near the financial resources to restore it. Now six months later, neighbors like Smith are still trying to regain access to his boat slip, moving dirt around on the White Oak dike.

“We’re just trying to get some hope so that we can get it built back,” said Smith.

Hope is hard to come by out here. Smith has spent weeks simply acquiring sand and this week was the first time he was able to bring a backhoe onto the land. Bladen County leaders along with neighbors came together to talk to the Army Corps of Engineers at the Centerville Baptist Church.

The Corps of Engineers says they gave the dike to the Lyons Swamp Drainage and Levee District decades ago.

“We have been at this sort of situation for a while now,” said Mitch Hall with the Wilmington district of the Corps of Engineers.

The Corps doesn’t have the dike on the rehab or inspection program list anymore. Hall said that happened in 2001 when overgrowth and vegetation problems arose and they told the local water district to fix them. Because of that, the corps of engineers said little can progress in federal help for rehab work to the half century old system.

“We’ve talked to locals about ways of perhaps bringing the project back online,” said Hall, “And at this point I think that’s where the discussion still lies.”

It’s not the answer flood victims wanted half a year since the storm.

“There just hasn’t been much done as far as progressing on getting it built back,” said Smith.

County leaders say that in the past they estimated $30 million dollars was needed for upkeep in a request they sent to the state.

“Write your Governor, talk to your county commissioner, and go to your legislative and ask for money,” said District 1 county commissioner Ophelia Munn-Goins.