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Wrightsville Beach
Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Deluge is slowing as Wrightsville Beach officials closely watch water levels in sewer system

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The worst of the weekend deluge may be behind us, Wilmington forecasters said just before 11 this morning.

Although the earlier forecast called for periods of heavy rain to continue throughout today and into tonight, the latest radar indicates precipitation levels are tapering off as the storm line pushes north, said Rick Kreitner, a forecaster with the National Weather Service.

“I don’t think we’ll see much more than half an inch further in the Wilmington area,” he said.

According to data on the weather service website, the area recorded 7.6 inches of rain from Friday afternoon into Monday morning. Amounts varied slightly, Kreitner said, with some places seeing just under 5 inches and others seeing more.

Light rain is forecast for the remainder of the day, said Michael Caropolo, meteorologist in charge of the weather service office at Wilmington International Airport. A band of heavier rain moving toward Horry County, South Carolina, could bring a few showers depending on its direction, Caropolo said. “Again, we’re not looking for anything significant,” he said.

In Wrightsville Beach, high water levels flooded some streets and parking areas, but town manager Tim Owens said the primary concern was the water that was flowing into the sewer system, as pumps were put on lift stations no. 3 and no. 5 to help bypass some of the flooded parts of the line.

“The most critical thing that happened during the storm is that it’s taxing our sewer system,” Owens said.

Lifeguard stand no. 13 sits toppled on Sunday, Oct. 4 after high tides and rough seas tore it down on Wrightsville Beach's south end. It's base sits about 100 yards further south. Staff photo by Terry Lane.
Lifeguard stand no. 13 sits toppled on Sunday, Oct. 4 after high tides and rough seas tore it down on Wrightsville Beach’s south end. It’s base sits about 100 yards further south. Staff photo by Terry Lane.

Elsewhere, lifeguard stand no. 13, located near public access 40, came down from the high tide at about noon on Sunday, Owens said. It was the second lifeguard stand to come down, as stand no. 1 at the north end was taken down by high tides on Monday, Sept. 28, following the high tides brought on by the full moon.

However, the loss of the stands doesn’t pose much of an issue for the town, as the summer beach season has ended and the town had already budgeted for six new stands for next season. Owens said it was that reason that the town elected to try to keep the stands on the beach rather than move them.

“It was never a big problem to begin with,” Owens said. “We made the decision to keep them on the beach. We thought they would hold up. Sometimes you can damage them just trying to move them.”

But river flooding potential in areas typically affected by rising waters will remain high for the foreseeable future, he said. River levels in the region could be rising for a few more weeks, Kreitner said.

New Hanover County officials, meanwhile, were keeping track of the storm’s impact. The Figure Eight Island homeowners association reported that three houses were “in imminent danger,” Lee said.

The county opened a shelter at Trask Middle School Sunday that housed two homeless people overnight, but they left Monday morning, said Warren Lee, New Hanover County’s emergency management director.

The shelter remained open, and county officials were waiting to decide whether to keep it open.

While the rain closed or left standing water in a number of roads, the beach towns saw the worst flooding, as well as shoreline erosion, Lee said. There have been reports of water infiltrating some homes, he said, but most of the flooding appears to have affected traffic more than property. Crews will begin assessing damage later today and Tuesday, he said.

Spotty power failures occurred as a result of the heavy rain and wind gusts, but Duke Energy reported no more than a few dozen customers without electricity, and the utility was able to restore power relatively in a timely manner, a spokeswoman said.

The storm led to a number of business and government closures. New Hanover County schools, Cape Fear Community College and the University of North Carolina Wilmington were closed Monday, as were general government offices in the county, the city, Carolina Beach and Kure Beach – although employees considered essential reported for duty.

The New Hanover schools will operate on a two-hour delay Tuesday because flooding of some roads was still a problem.

The county opened its Emergency Operations Center at the government complex off South College Road near Market Street, and officials were expecting some more flooding around the times of high tide through tomorrow morning.

email Tricia Vance at [email protected].

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