TAR HEEL — Mandatory evacuations have been ordered by Bladen County near the Cape Fear River in the northern part of the county.
The notice is for residents living north of the river in the vicinity of River Road, Burney Road, Tar Heel Ferry Road and along Harrison Creek, the county said in a statement released before 3 p.m.
Flooding, the county said, is expected to be near or higher than Hurricane Matthew levels. Those residents are encouraged to move further inland if at all possible. The nearest shelter is at West Bladen High School, 1600 N.C. 410.
“There’s a concern about the level of the Cape Fear River over the next couple of days,” said Greg Martin, the county manager.
Martin said the more southeastern part of the county is being monitored. Authorities have been watching the Cape Fear, Black and South rivers throughout the ordeal caused by Florence, the storm that strode ashore as a Category 1 on Friday morning near Wrightsville Beach and has slowed to a crawl in northeastern South Carolina less than 50 miles from Myrtle Beach.
Martin said more than 13 inches of rain have been measured on the Cape Fear near Kelly, in the southern portion of the county. There’s a prediction of five more inches today.
Before the storm made its closest brush with Bladen County on Friday afternoon, it was expected to dump upward of 26 inches in Elizabethtown and 30 inches in the Riegelwood area.
Flood stage was expected on the Cape Fear at the Huske lock and in Elizabethtown early Sunday. But Saturday, the National Weather Service had upped those times to before midnight Saturday.
At the Huske lock near the Cumberland County line, the crest is expected to be near 65 feet Monday or Tuesday. That’s nearly two feet above flood stage. A photo tweeted Saturday morning by Cumberland County Sheriff Ennis Wright showed a very swollen Cape Fear River in Fayetteville not far from downtown.
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