Storm causes flooded streets in Whiteville and ‘substantial’ damage to public works facility

Flooding in Whiteville on June 16, 2020. (Photo: Ian Edwards)

WHITEVILLE, NC (WWAY) — A storm system dumped several inches of rain in Whiteville Tuesday night flooding streets and causing significant damage to a public works facility.

“The problem was the amount of rain in such a short period of time,” said Hal Lowder, director of emergency services for Whiteville. “About 5 inches of rain fell in about two hours and over the last two days, we’ve had more than 8.5 inches.”

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At one point, about 20 streets were flooded causing problems for drivers.

Lowder says recent stormwater improvement projects helped remediate flood damage to buildings in downtown Whiteville.

That wasn’t the case at the public works building on West Main Street which flooded causing lots of equipment damage. Lowder said crews were on the scene Wednesday morning assessing the damage. He was unable to provide an exact dollar amount other than to say it was “substantial.”

“The amount of rain we received was the equivalent of a one hundred year event which happened in one day,” Lowder said. “Storm drains just aren’t designed to handle that much water.”

While the water table rose in nearby swamps overnight, he said it receded pretty quickly by Wednesday morning.

“If you dump a five-gallon bucket of water gradually down a kitchen sink, it can handle it but if you dump the bucket all at once, its going to overflow,” Lowder said.

About 10 inches of rain have fallen in Whiteville this month. The yearly average is around 48 inches and the city has already received 41 inches of rainfall.