KELLY — Anguish and even a bit of helplessness crosses the face of everyone in the Bladen County Emergency Operations Command Center when the subject is broached.
Will Kelly flood?
The small community in the southeastern part of the county is home to about 800 residents, roughly 75 percent of whom have heeded mandatory evacuation warnings and left.
The Cape Fear River’s rise is coming. Already it has crested in Fayetteville, and Thursday it hit a peak at the northern end of the county.
About 5 p.m., Bradley Kinlaw was told the next 24 to 36 hours would probably determine if a 14-mile earthen dike holds and protects the northern side from the mighty Cape Fear.
“The good news is the Black River is receding,” said Kinlaw, the county’s Emergency Management director.
The Black River runs on the northern side of the community, making its way alongside N.C. 210 between Kelly and Ivanhoe. For the last several days, officials have worried both rivers could spill into the community.
Already in the Ivanhoe and Kelly area, stores and houses have become inundated with flood water, some to the point of only rooftops being seen.
From the north side, going to Kelly is usually done by traveling N.C. 53 from White Lake through Singletary Lake State Park, or by coming down N.C. 210.
Thursday afternoon, if traveling N.C. 53, it’s less than 12 miles from White Lake to river water. On N.C. 210, water from the adjacent South River blocked the highway just past Ennis Bridge Road — northwest of Ivanhoe as the crow flies.
“Kelly is not good,” Sheriff Jim McVicker said.
The water is around the dike on the ends, or over it where people have made driveways over the years. Kinlaw said it’s been tough to forecast because this threat with the dike has simply never come before.
“According to our engineers, we anticipate Kelly flooding in 24 to 36 hours,” he said as dusk began to creep forward.
Fire trucks were moved to higher ground, and potential rescue options were being considered for those refusing to leave. Kinlaw said one of the issues could be getting to a point that requires a boat, but then going closer into the community and reaching another point where a vehicle is needed.
Along N.C. 210 South northwest of Ivanhoe as the crow flies, water from the South River is alongside the highway.
Water at the Rowan Store on Hwy. 210 almost covered the roof early this week.
The road to Kelly on N.C.53 ends less than 12 miles from White Lake. Water from the Cape Fear River is threatening a 14-mile long earthen dike that protects Kelly, a community of about 800 residents where 75 percent have evacuated. The cone at right, when placed about noon Thursday, was not in water; about three hours later the based was covered, further reducing the distance of White Lake from the water.
N.C. 210 becomes more river than highway deep into Bladen County.
Chrysta Carroll can be reached at 910-862-4163 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Alan Wooten can be reached at 910-247-9132 or email@example.com.