Hurricane Florence from the field: Watching the rain and the rivers rise

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As Hurricane Florence, now a tropical storm, crawls through the Carolinas, our reporters and photojournalists are on the coast. Their Saturday reports from the coast are here.

You can follow them at @_andrewcarter, @joshshaffer08, @MarthaQuillin. @vizjourno, , ,

Hope Mills, N.C.: Dam still holding

9 a.m.: Water from Rockfish Creek was raging through the Hope Mills Dam on Sunday morning, dumping into the Cape Fear River.

Hope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner, who was at the dam, told the News & Observer that it was “structurally sound” and “functioning as it should.”

Water was rushing over five “weirs” at the dam — long protrusions that increase surface area of the water and slow it down.

Warner said she’s in contact with engineer for the dam, who also inspected it, and regular updates on its status are going out.

Despite overnight concern that Florence’s floodwaters could compromise the dam, Warner said she’s confident it will hold.

“It’s a tremendous amount of water. So many people think it already failed,” she said.

Water normally flows over only two of the dam’s five weirs. On Sunday, it rushed over all five, bulging over the first two. The dam is connected to Hope Mills Lake and is near downtown — just down the road from the police and fire departments.

But there was still room for more water on the weirs.

“People were worried and were calling, texting and Facebooking throughout the night,” Warner said. “It was a rough night, worrying that we might have an issue. But I’m confident.”

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But as the Cape Fear rises, Warner said she worries it could potentially back water back up through the dam.

“We’re hoping it keeps flowing and doesn’t push water back up toward us,” she said.