Important info re hurricanes/floods : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Couldn't resist this quickie after reading in local paper--please go to URL and read article. Very important information for the many of us who are preparing for any disaster, not just Y2K.

-- Old Git (, June 21, 1999


Old Git,

Are you sure this is the correct URL? It won't work for me. Thanks.

-- Gordon (, June 21, 1999.

Doesn't work for me either.

-- (, June 21, 1999.

It works for me.

-- Andy (, June 21, 1999.

Can somebody paste the item on this forum? I still can't get it.

-- BiGG (, June 21, 1999.

Doesn't work for me...

-- Libby Alexander (, June 21, 1999.

[6/21/99] As waters rise, homeowners' fears do too (have to search for it).

[Fair Use: For Educational/Research Purposes Only]

As waters rise, homeowners' fears do too

Development is blamed for increasingly frequent flooding. The government offers to buy out some threatened properties.


Fear may chase Elaine Whitworth from a house full of memories. Her three children grew up there, sneaking through the woods to the nearby Eno River to play in its forbidden current. But the river that runs quietly behind her home rose high enough during Hurricane Fran and again last year to drive out Whitworth and her family. Now, she paces the house with every rainfall, peering out the bathroom window, wondering whether this is the night the river will claim her house again.

"It's a miserable way to live," she said recently.

As a result, Whitworth's family and several dozen others across the Triangle are weighing offers from the government that may be hard to refuse -- to sell their homes and stand by as bulldozers tear them down. The federal flood insurance program has determined that's probably cheaper than coming back after every flood and repairing the houses. The homes are flooding more often largely because new development upstream has put subdivisions, shopping centers and parking lots where rain used to soak into the ground. That water is being funneled into streams and rivers such as the Eno, which are rising higher and higher.

Durham has received $1.8 million to buy and demolish 19 homes hit during Hurricane Fran and now prone to repeat flooding. Raleigh has $11.5 million to demolish 50 homes and five businesses and elevate 25 other structures. Money also will go toward commercial real estate, multifamily properties and low-lying vacant land.

Statewide, more than 2,000 homes are being bought and demolished in 130 communities, said Gavin Smith, assistant director for mitigation in the N.C. Division of Emergency Management.

The money comes from the Federal Emergency Management Agency as part of a national hazard mitigation program aimed at keeping families -- and federal insurers -- from having to cope with repeated flooding.

"It's expensive, for one, and secondly it's very traumatic," said Sue Burke, Durham's storm water services manager.

The threatened homes and businesses have all been built in 100-year flood plains, where it has been calculated that there is a 1-in-100 chance every year of a significant flood. But new development has increased those odds.

Just ask Elaine Whitworth.

She and her family moved to the house at 6 Hedgerow Place in the Old Farm subdivision in 1983, enjoying the view of the Eno River from the back yard. The house sits high on a hill, and the river flows quietly below. It's difficult to imagine the Eno could ever climb high enough to threaten the neighborhood.

And for years, Whitworth said, there were few problems.

More recently, though, water started swirling from the city park after heavy rains, flooding the street and forcing residents to park their cars uphill on Rippling Stream Road. Family members would skirt the water by walking across front lawns.

Her mailbox has floated away more times than she can recall.

"The explanation they gave me is [that] upstream construction has destroyed something, I don't know what," Whitworth said.

A quick review of Durham County's developed areas by city-county senior planner Jane Korest found that flood-plain elevations rose an average of more than 3 feet in about 15 years. To study the changes, Korest compared federal flood maps from the 1970s and '80s to more recent maps completed in 1996. She and others suspect the early maps were inaccurate. But upstream development has played a significant part, Burke said.

"As long as we see increased development, you're going to see increased flooding," she said. "Someone always lives downstream."

And it works that way across the Triangle, Burke said. Orange County's development affects Durham, and Durham's development then affects Wake County. The goals of the hazard-mitigation programs go beyond fixing up flood-prone properties, said Smith, the state's assistant mitigation director.

He wants communities to take a whole new attitude toward natural disasters when planning for growth.

This month, Durham's City Council and county commissioners are expected to approve an ordinance that would prohibit most new building in the flood plains. Building in 100-year flood plains is restricted in Chapel Hill, but it is allowed in Raleigh.

The Durham regulations would be stricter than federal guidelines, which require only that buildings be elevated to 2 feet above flood level and that owners buy flood insurance.

Across the nation, planners and insurers have wondered whether residents ought to live in flood plains. After the Mississippi River poured across the nation's midsection in 1993, for example, officials renewed calls to push farmers farther away from the river and the fertile soil of its banks.

When Hurricane Fran rolled through in September 1996, it brought more than 8 inches of rain in two days. The Eno River overflowed its banks quickly.

Shaina Whitworth, 19, recalls the morning the family fled. She was at home with her aunt when a neighbor knocked on the front door at 8 a.m.

"It was real scary when the water was right there," she said recently, pointing out her front door. "It was just sitting there, like it was supposed to be there."

By 10 a.m., the water was at the doorstep. The family left.

Furniture and carpet were destroyed. A backyard shed was knocked sideways off its concrete base and slid about 100 feet down the hill and toward the river. It remains there today, on its side, its jumbled contents hidden inside as vines and small trees grow up around it.

The waters rose again last spring, driving the family out a second time.

And after Whitworth took in her 79-year-old mother, who has heart troubles, she worried even more. She has already taken her mother to a motel once in fear of rising waters.

"Every time it rained after that, we kind of got apprehensive," Whitworth said. "Real apprehensive, as a matter of fact."

This summer, homes in Durham and Raleigh are being appraised and offers will be made to residents, who can accept or decline.

At every step through closing, residents will have the option of backing out. In Raleigh, homeowners turned out at a City Council meeting this spring to complain that federal regulations say the offers can only reflect housing values in 1996, before Hurricane Fran. While in some parts of the country that might have protected them against declining values due to repeated flooding, it hurts residents in the booming Triangle housing market.

In Durham, city officials received a second grant so they can have the homes appraised and pay 1999 market values. Officials in Raleigh have applied for a $1.5 million grant from the state acquisition and relocation fund to do the same. That grant money would also pay for tenant relocation, homeowner relocation and more elevations, said David Betts, Raleigh's assistant planning director.

Not every family that applied was accepted into the program, and even those that were accepted might not see it all the way through.

"I've got mixed feelings about the whole process," Whitworth said. She doesn't know where she'll move, or even if she wants to stay in Durham.

Whatever happens, Elaine Whitworth's home isn't the place she once envisioned.

Walking down a path in the woods behind her house recently, she paused near a clearing, standing quietly as birds sang overhead and the Eno River trickled below.

She once thought of building a patio there. No longer.

"It was very pleasant in general," she said, "until the weather started to present some issues."

-- Diane J. Squire (, June 21, 1999.

Thanks Old Git for the original post.

Thanks Diane for posting the text.

-- (, June 21, 1999.


-- Michael (, June 21, 1999.

Oops... its what came up in the search...

Beg pardon, y'all, THIS is the correct hurricanes/floods article 000z0H

-- Diane J. Squire (, June 21, 1999.

Paving over greenspace is proceeding all over the country (Portland, Oregon is opposing it). Rainfall that would normally percolate down to the watertable instead runs off the pavement to a sewer and eventually to the waterways. The risk of flooding is bound to increase.

-- Tom Carey (, June 21, 1999.

Your 100% right about that Tom!

Every subdivision we build or have built for the past few years, must include a detention system, usually open air, to slow the storm water, and allow it to be regulated into the drainage systems. The Engineers have gotten quite sophisticated in their designs. Even to the point of incorporating surface evaporation tables into the formulas.

Does it work, well the jury is still out on that. But if the throne is unavailable, I can forsee people dumping their raw sewage into the storm drains and it collecting in these detention ponds, which feed directly into the streams and rivers. YUK!! Got lime?

-- Michael (, June 21, 1999.

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