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Year-in-Review: Flooding

Highway 87 flooded by the Northeast Cape Fear.

By Megan V. Williams

Wilmington, NC – Audio is of National Weather Service meteorologist Ron Steve describing our region's rainfall patterns through 2006 and looking ahead to 2007.

Although this year was only slightly wetter than usual in Southeastern North Carolina, a burst of fall storms pushed some rivers over their banks.

The region stayed very dry last winter and spring, with some areas receiving less than half their average rainfall.

But in late August, tropical storm Ernesto dropped nine inches of rain in one day, brining the Northeast Cape Fear River to major flood stage, and forcing hundreds of evacuations in Chinquapin and Burgaw.

Pender County Emergency Manager Eddie King says that by the time a Nor'easter blew through in November, even six inches of rain were enough to send the swollen river into flood.

"If you were to take a sponge and put it on your counter and it's full of water, and then you dump another cup of water on it, the water's going to run off. And that's essentially what we saw in the November flood, because we didn't have trees and crops on the field and vegetation that typically take up the extra water when we have rain events in the spring or in the summer."

November's storm system also flooded the Lumber River, forcing evacuations in Robeson County. The National Weather Service predicts a wetter-than-average winter going into the new year.