With eye on flooding, Wilmington area gets back to normal

View The Original Article Here

With the exception of tornadoes, Hurricane Dorian caused minor damage in Southeastern N.C.

WILMINGTON — Ricsy Castro waved to friends outside of Galloway Hall Sunday as they rolled suitcases back into the dorm. After having to evacuate campus due to Hurricane Dorian, University of North Carolina Wilmington students were able to move back in Sunday.

For Castro, evacuating meant an hour-and-a-half drive home. While her family’s house lost power during Dorian, the storm spared it any damage.

“I’ve made friends these past two weeks and I was really excited to see them again,” Castro said. “I’m just waiting for everyone to come back.”

Returning to campus after just a few days away was a relief to many on campus. Classes were canceled at UNCW for more than three weeks following Hurricane Florence last year, and the storm caused millions of dollars in damage to campus buildings.

This week will mark Florence’s one-year anniversary.

“I’m glad we weren’t gone for like a month like last year,” Castro said.

Though Dorian passed over the Wilmington area as a Category 2 hurricane, damage in the region was minimal. A notable exception was the Carolina Shores neighborhood in Brunswick County, where a suspected tornado damaged several homes. In the hours after the storm, floodwaters also blocked several roads in Brunswick, New Hanover and Pender counties.

But as of Sunday, power had been restored to nearly the entire region. Duke Energy reported just five customers in the area without power, and Brunswick Electric Membership Corporation reported 15 outages.

Watching for floods

Still, emergency officials are eyeing the Northeast Cape Fear River for flooding in the coming days, as Dorian’s rainwater flows downriver.

A flood warning is in effect for areas near the river in Burgaw until further notice. Jordan Baker, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Wilmington Office, said the river is expected to crest Friday. Baker said the river stage is likely to hit 7 feet Sunday night; flood stage for the Burgaw area is 10 feet.

Baker said minor flooding is possible on River Bend and River Birch roads Monday evening. Should the river rise to 10.5 feet, it will also mean flooding on Croomsbridge Road and Old Maple Hill Road.

“Some areas might have issues toward the end of the week as it reaches that higher flood stage,” Baker said. “We actually got out pretty low with the storm. We didn’t get nearly the amount of rain inland that we thought we would, so the effects have been pretty limited.”

Pender County Emergency Director Tom Collins said officials were watching the river.

“It’s supposed to be minor flooding, just a couple of roads closed,” he said.

Hurricane season continues

Back on campus, some students were frustrated by the timing of the evacuation, announced just as some were getting back to campus from Labor Day weekend. For freshman Rebekah Blevins, the evacuation meant a five-hour drive in each direction.

“It was a little frustrating; I feel like the hurricane really wasn’t anything much,” she said. “I would have liked a bit more notice, just an extra day so we could be a bit more prepared. But I mean, I can’t complain.”

Of course, hurricane season isn’t over until November 30, and the tropics are still active. Sunday afternoon, there was a pair of disturbances in the Atlantic Ocean, though both had minimal chances of becoming tropical storms in the coming days.

“I’m happy to be back,” Castro said. “I missed everyone. I’m excited to see what the school year brings, and hopefully we don’t have to evacuate again.”

Reporter Cammie Bellamy can be reached at 910-343-2339 or Cammie.Bellamy@StarNewsOnline.com.