Lenoir County is bracing major flooding.
Personnel from Lenoir County Sheriff’s Department and Emergency Services, along with N.C. Highway Patrol and Department of Transportation, Kinston Fire Department and Kinston Police Department met Friday to discuss potential flooding in Lenoir County due to the overwhelming recent rainfall.
Official projections are the river is going to hit 21.9 feet — considered “major flood stage” — Wednesday evening, Nov. 18. Additional rises above that projection are possible. As of Friday morning, the river was at 12.5 feet; it had risen to 13.7 feet Friday evening.
Lenoir County experienced major rainfall just like New Bern earlier this week from the remnants of a hurricane. That’s not the problem now and it’s not what is causing flooding in Lenoir County.
The problem now is all the rainfall and runoff farther west that has channeled into the Neuse River and is washing downriver. The Neuse River narrows in Lenoir County. That, combined with low elevations, cause the river to spill its banks when the river level rises.
This situation continues into west Craven County through the Vanceboro area, but dissipates as the Neuse River widens through the New Bern area.
“Residents should be aware of potential major flooding in Lenoir County next week,” Lenoir County Emergency Services Director Jerri King said. “With models predicting the river continuing to rise, county residents should be knowledgeable and prepared about the situation.”
Flooding is predicted in low-lying areas that border the Neuse River in Lenoir County, including — but not limited to — the Old Asphalt Road area and the Neuse Nature Center.
Lenoir County Sheriff Ronnie Ingram reminded residents to never attempt to drive through standing water.
“At no time should residents think they can drive across roadways that are covered in floodwaters,” Ingram said. “Drivers have no idea how deep the water could be that covers a roadway. Residents need to remember to ‘turn around, don’t drown.’”
The sheriff also reminded residents to not drive around barricades that have been set up to block roadways that have been flooded.
“You are breaking the law when you move or drive around a barricade,” Ingram said.
As the river continues to rise over the next few days, King and Ingram advised residents to visit their respective departments’ Facebook pages for more information. They also said residents can visit fiman.nc.gov, find the Kinston button on the map and then see the different flood levels depending on how high the river is at that time.
Additionally, county residents can sign up for the free Swift911 message notification system on their smartphones, tablets and computers. Swift911 is a high‐speed emergency notification system that alerts residents to emergency situations such as severe storm warnings, road closures, evacuations and others deemed necessary by public officials. Visit Lenoir County Emergency Services on Facebook for more information about signing up for Swift911.
As part of normal operations for any emergency planning, all Lenoir County agencies meet to stay informed and assure there is a joint plan in place to assure continuity of operations for public safety.
Lenoir County citizens should keep an eye on rising water levels as the area is forecasted to receive 21.6 feet of water in the Neuse River that could impact travel on some of roadways.
Remember to turn around, don’t drown when you encounter rising waters.
Watch the Lenoir County Emergency Services and Sheriff’s Office pages in the coming days for more information.