Flood waters force 1,500 to evacuate in Lumberton

Flood waters force 1,500 to evacuate in Lumberton

LUMBERTON, N.C. (WRAL/WMBF) — Monday was a trying day for many in and around Lumberton as the Lumber River reached a record level after quickly rising four feet over the last record overnight.

And now, it could be days before hundreds of people evacuated from the homes in the area Monday can get back in to see what's left behind.

It is uncharted territory for many, as areas along the Lumber River that have never flooded are now underwater.

Many people say they've been through hurricanes and bad storms plenty of times before, but never anything like this.

A lot of people were already out of their homes because of Hurricane Matthew's path. Still, at least 1,500 had to be evacuated Monday.

They are now heading to shelters around the Lumberton area.

"It makes me want to cry," said James Borum. "It's horrible, people with no electricity in their homes. It keeps coming. We're going to lose a few homes here."

It was initially reported that the levee in Lumberton breached, however, an official with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration confirmed that it did not. Water levels west of Interstate 95 are so high that water is getting into areas south of the levee via an underpass below I-95 at VFW road.

The water was knee-deep through the area by mid-morning and was rising rapidly, McCrory said at a news conference updating the impact of Hurricane Matthew on North Carolina.

Two dozen boats have been deployed to the area to help rescue about 1,500 residents stranded by the rising water, according to Mike Sprayberry, director of the state Emergency Management Division. Helicopters were also flying over Lumberton to pull people from roofs.

McCrory said the air space over Lumberton has been restricted to eliminate any interference with the helicopter, and he advised people not to fly drones over the area to get an aerial view of the flooding.

Drones "are endangering our helicopter rescue teams," he said. "If we see a drone, we've got to withdraw our helicopters, and that could be a life or death situation for a person."

About 1,000 people had already left Lumberton in Matthew's wake, and about 500 buildings have been affected by flooding in the area, McCrory said.

Because much of Interstate 95 remains closed between Lumberton and Four Oaks, detours have forced some traffic into Lumberton, which he said is complicating rescue operations.

"Our major priority is to get local traffic through for evacuations," he said, urging tourists to avoid passing through North Carolina on I-95.

"We don't recommend that at this time. You're going to be delayed," he said. "We'll try to get you through through detours, but if those detours are impacting local evacuations, you will wait."

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