Carolina Beach expected a lot of water this weekend, and they got it.
Though officials were well-prepared for the predicted weather, Sunday’s torrential rains, combined with the ocean tides, brought flooding to the town’s low-lying areas, particularly on the north end and by Carolina Beach Lake.
Canal Drive and Carolina Beach Avenue North, which were both closed Sunday due to high water, were open Monday morning, though parts of Canal Drive were still under a few inches of water.
“Both actually are very much passable right now,” Assistant Town Manager Ed Parvin said early Monday afternoon. “That’s going to change very quickly. We know as the tide comes in in the next few hours, that area’s going to flood again.”
Though the worst of the storm has passed, Parvin said the town was expecting another 1 – 2 inches of rain Monday evening, and with the afternoon’s expected high tide, they were bracing for more travel troubles.
“We’ll have inadvertent road closures going on throughout the community over the next probably 12 to 24 hours,” Parvin said.
The town’s other major area of flooding, on Lake Park Boulevard and side streets beside Carolina Beach Lake, is not expected to be open until Tuesday. On Monday, Lake Park Boulevard was closed off between Hamlet and Sumter Avenue.
“Dow Road is a fantastic option to get around Carolina Beach,” Parvin said. “There is a lot of standing water, especially in the downtown of Lake Park Boulevard, so that’s a good area to avoid unless that’s your destination.”
The water level at the lake, which rises and falls with the tide, was pumped down as much as possible before the storm. The town has been running six pumps, four that go out to the ocean and two that empty into the river. However, at some point they weren’t pumping properly, so Parvin and other town workers went to try and straighten the lines. What they found instead was a different aspect of Mother Nature getting in the way of them draining the water.
“Fish and snakes were stopping up the lines,” said Parvin, noting that the lake, though fairly shallow, is home to different kinds of fish, water snakes and even alligators. Workers were able to clear the creatures from the lines, and the pumps are working to keep the water levels manageable.
Further south on Pleasure Island, it was business as usual for the Town of Kure Beach. Unlike Carolina Beach, which closed its town hall and non-essential services, municipal offices were open in Kure Beach, which lies on slightly higher land than its northern neighbor. The town’s council did decide to extend its state of emergency until 11 a.m. Tuesday and will meet again at that time to reassess the situation, but no major road closures occurred as a result of the storm.
Fort Fisher State Historic Site and the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher were both closed Monday. The Southport-Fort Fisher Ferry was suspended a couple of times due to high tide and water on the roads, but resumed its normal schedule as soon as those receded. There were several areas of standing water along Fort Fisher Boulevard, but all roads were passable by late Monday morning.
Back in Carolina Beach, officials are asking residents and visitors to bear with them as they go through another round of rain and high tides before finally getting some relief.
“We’re doing everything we can,” said Mayor Dan Wilcox. “There’s a lot of people with a lot more resources than we have that are having the same problems. We’re doing the best we can.”
According to Parvin, the town will be on a conference call with county officials late Monday afternoon and will decide then whether to open town hall on Tuesday. Trash pick up, which usually occurs on Mondays, will be delayed until later in the week.
Parvin said no power outages have been reported yet, but public utilities workers as well as first responders are working around the clock as the wind and rain continue to come through the area. Residents who encounter downed trees or power lines or see areas of high water are asked to call 911 and to stay away from dangerous areas until emergency services arrive.
A voluntary evacuation is still in effect for residents on the north end and other low-lying areas. Though the New Hanover County shelter at Trask Middle School closed at 12:30 p.m. Monday, the Red Cross is opening a shelter at 4 p.m. Monday afternoon. That shelter is located at Winter Park Baptist Church at 4700 Wrightsville Ave. in Wilmington.