By Erin Smith
Bladen County Emergency Management said 50 people, along with their pets, were rescued from the flood waters in Kelly overnight Friday. Bradley Kinlaw, Bladen County Emergency Management Director, said Bladen County Animal Control assisted Emergency Management Officials with evacuating the pets throughout the event and transporting them to safety.
On Saturday morning, officials estimated about 80 people remain in Kelly. Kinlaw said there was not a lot of activity in the Kelly area overnight Friday after rescue teams were pulled out for the night. One medical patient was flown out last night as the rescue team was leaving, added Kinlaw.
“They are currently doing a flight to assess the water levels this morning (Saturday),” said Kinlaw.
He said USAR and FEMA partners have placed a couple of gauges in various points in Kelly to help monitor the water level. Kinlaw said he expects to receive some data later this weekend regarding the rate of rise and what kind of rise (in water levels) is observed.
Kinlaw also said the 62 evacuees who were flown to Kinston on Thursday night have now returned to Bladen County, and are currently being housed at the West Bladen Shelter.
Roughly 100 people were rescued from Kelly flood waters on Wednesday and taken to emergency shelters.
Kinlaw said the Cape Fear River has crested in the Kelly area; however, the water coming into the community of Kelly will continue to rise. The reason for the continued rise of the water is due to the fact that the White Oak Dike has been breached and water is coming around the end of the dike. Kinlaw said the water will continue to rise until the level in the river and level in the town equalizes. Officials are not sure how long the water will continue to rise in Kelly.
Kinlaw said, on Saturday morning, it is his understanding that water was inside the EMS building and was within a few feet of the fire department building. He said aerial assessments were taking place again today, and missions were being flown over the community in an effort to rescue anyone who may be trapped in the flood waters.
Kinlaw also said the County is preparing to close the shelters at West Bladen High School and East Arcadia School, and move those remaining families to Booker T. Washington School in Clarkton on Saturday. He explained Booker T. Washington School does not have students this year, so the shelter can remain open there as long as is needed and will be operated by the American Red Cross.
Kinlaw said the number of rescues that have taken in place in the county since Hurricane Florence struck on September 13, 2018, through Saturday stands at 346.