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New flood gauges increase public safety, expand flood prediction capability

RALEIGH – When river levels began rising last year after a late-April storm dumped five to eight inches of rain across North Carolina’s Piedmont, North Carolina Emergency Management (NCEM) warned community leaders along the Neuse River what day and time the river would crest and just how high water levels would rise in their community.  A series of flood gauges provided critical data to make those predictions. Soon 13 more gauges will join that state network and help alert other communities to dangerous flooding.

“Time and again over the last several years, we’ve used data from these flood gauges to warn residents and communities about dangerous flood conditions,” said State Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry.

The new devices will join the state’s network of more than 560 strategically positioned rain and stream gauges that measure rainfall and water levels to warn first responders and residents who live and work near flood-prone areas.  As the backbone of the state’s Flood Inundation Mapping and Alert Network (FIMAN), the gauges provide real-time data that is used to formulate forecasts, issue alerts and convey the anticipated flood impact to buildings and infrastructure.  The data collected by NCEM is provided to federal agencies and is available through NOAA and the National Weather Service.

FIMAN can show precisely which buildings and homes will flood when local rivers or streams reach certain flood levels. During Hurricane Matthew, this capability was used to direct efficient and appropriate evacuations and resources.

Much of the flood data is available in real time through the ReadyNC mobile app developed by NCEM. App users can click on Flood Gauges to check the current status of sounds, creeks and rivers nearby to see if the water level is at normal levels or minor, moderate or major flood stage.

While the state has purchased and installed most of the gauges, some communities have partnered with NCEM to purchase devices that will provide flood information for their area.

North Carolina Emergency Management has purchased and is installing nine new flood gauges to add to the FIMAN network at these locations:

Robeson County – Little Raft Swamp at N. Shannon Road in Red Springs
Edgecombe County – Deep Creek at Cutchin Farm Rd. in Speed
Cumberland County – Beaver Creek at State Road 1404 in Fayetteville
Dare County – Emergency Ferry Dock – Rodanthe
Brunswick County – Ocean Isle Beach Pier – Atlantic Ocean
Sampson County – Williams Old Mill Branch at U.S. 421 in Clinton
Scotland County – Leith Creek at Laurinburg
Wilson County – Contentnea Creek at State Road 1163 in Wilson
Pitt County – Little Contentnea Creek at NC 211 in Farmville
Additionally, county governments have funded new gauges at these locations:

Pender County – Black River near Currie
Brunswick County – Caw Caw Swamp at Number 5 School Rd NW near Carolina Shores
Brunswick County – Shallotte River at Main St./U.S. 17 Business in Shallotte
Brunswick County – Lockwood Folly River at N.C. Hwy 211 / Southport-Supply Rd. in Supply
All of the gauges will be maintained by NCEM and will be connected to the FIMAN system where the public can view gauge data online.

“Adding new gauges in these areas will help communities be more aware and prepared for flooding, and will allow for better warning when floods are coming,” said State Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry.  “FIMAN is a powerful tool that helps us very accurately define what areas will be affected by flood waters, so emergency managers and local officials can take the appropriate actions to keep people safe.”

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