Increased flooding worries Pender County residents

PENDER COUNTY (WWAY) — In Pender County, people are bracing for the peak of hurricane season next month, hoping there will not be any heavy rain that leads to flooding.

According to one resident, flooding is inevitable in Pender County. But after Hurricane Florence exacerbated conditions, it could turn into a way of life.

“You kind of live in a houseboat for about 5-7 days and then it goes back down,” said Pender County resident, David Bollinger. “And then the biggest hassle is cleaning it up.”

But after Hurricane Florence parked over Southeastern North Carolina three days, everything changed.

“There was three feet of water inside our home,” Bollinger remembered. “We had evacuated to Chapel Hill, and could not get back because of what happened with the roads and everything, could not get back for another three weeks.”

Bollinger had to strip his home of more than 20 years to the bare bones and rebuild. Now he spends his hurricane seasons looking at the latest forecasts, not wanting to be caught off-guard again.

According to Commissioner Jackie Newton, Pender streams and rivers were already due for a clean up. Hurricane Florence swept more debris into the water, making them flood more often and worse than before.

“Streams have collapsed on themselves,” said Newton. “Riverbanks are full of debris. They have runoff from silt. And their just not as deep and the water’s going flatter.”

That’s why Newton and several Southeastern leaders drove to Raleigh last week, lobbying legislators for more flooding resources to dredge and deepen moving bodies of water.

According to Newton, “If the water doesn’t have a place to go, it’s going to spread out. When the water spreads out it’s called a flood. People lose their lives. People lose their homes. People lose their livelihoods.”

The state Senate and House should decide on the bill in the coming weeks. In the meantime, locals like Bollinger are hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst.

“If the Northeast backs up again, and it will, then I-40 will be cut off again. We’ll be an island here again in Wilmington and so forth.”

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