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Flood Risk Higher in Coastal and Freshwater Areas as Scattered Showers Continue

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City of Wilmington
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Wilmington officials say this is a man-made wetland off S Kerr Ave. It was built in the early 2000's and handles stormwater runoff from College Rd that feeds into Burnt Mill Creek. This is another way to reduce flooding.

The pounding rain that has blanketed the Cape Fear region for the last several days is easing up.  Some activities are a "go" tonight -- such as Cinematique and CFCC's Beauty and the Beast.  But local officials aren't ready to sound the all-clear yet.

The rain isn't quite over, but it's not expected to have as much of an impact as it's had over the last few days.  Steven Pfaff is a Warning Coordination Meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wilmington.  Some areas, says Pfaff, will continue to grapple with flooding.

"You have to factor in the runoff.  You have to factor in the river flooding that’s yet to occur.  In addition, through tonight, we’re going to have gusty winds and with the saturated grounds those winds will be strong enough to knock trees down.  We’ve had reports of many trees down in southeast North Carolina today and that threat will continue into tonight."

A wind advisory remains in effect this evening for gusts between 30 and 40 miles per hour.  And while scattered showers are possible around the area, the low pressure system will gradually lift and drier conditions will develop Tuesday and into Wednesday.  And, says Pfaff, this system is creating abnormally high tides – which isn’t helping the situation near the coast.  

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Listen to Part II here.

"When we have this high tide, and we have rainfall trying to drain into the tidal creeks, the rainfall backs up into the tidal creeks because of the tide.  So it’s very complex living along the coast.  When we start talking about higher-than-normal tides and coastal flooding, in addition to inland freshwater flooding, where there is an interface between the two that are modulated by the tide."

Pfaff says one of his bigger challenges is getting the public to take the warnings seriously and refrain from driving through flooded roadways.  During this weather event, says Pfaff, people have paid a high price for doing just that.    

"It’s very discouraging to still see that going on and some people are paying the price.  You know, they’re losing their vehicles to floodwaters or, in some extreme cases, west of here, where people have lost their lives in the Columbia [South Carolina] area.  The power of flooding is incredible."

It only takes a foot of water to float a vehicle.  It only takes 4-6 inches of flowing water to push a car off the road, says Pfaff.