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Flooding Looms Along Water Street In Downtown Wilmington

By Christina Haley O'Neal, posted Sep 24, 2018
Floodwaters linger on Water Street, near the intersection of Walnut Street, on Monday morning. (Photo by Cece Nunn)
River floodwaters in downtown Wilmington are set to rise this week, as some businesses along Water Street prepare for potential flooding.

Forecasters with the National Weather Service in Wilmington said that moderate tidal flooding of the Cape Fear River will continue at downtown Wilmington's waterfront with each high tide, through the middle of the week. According to its flood report at noon Monday, levels will increase, especially with tidal flooding Monday night through Wednesday. 

"Levels could reach about 8 feet with peak high tides. Lesser impacts will likely continue through the end of the week," stated the report.

While many downtown businesses have opened, others along Water Street were preparing for the floodwaters to rise.

On Monday morning, water was still looming on portions of the roadway, including near the Hotel Ballast, 301 Water St. Officials with the hotel said Monday that it had sustained minimal damage from Hurricane Florence, which made landfall Sept. 14 in the Wrightsville Beach area.

 The hotel was serving guests Monday while preparing for the river waters to rise.

"We’re preparing for it like the rest of [the businesses in the area]," a representative with the hotel said Monday morning. "We fared well through the storm and still have ground floor doors sandbagged. We had minimal damage and just left the sandbags there. We're waiting for the flooding to stop and keeping our fingers crossed."

Flooding has reached the intersection of Market and Water streets. That's near the Alton Lennon Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse, which has closed because of impacts of the hurricane.

"The courthouse is closed indefinitely due to the damages and consequences of Hurricane Florence," said Statt Moore, clerk of court for the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of North Carolina. "The courts are actively working with GSA (General Services Administration) to determine the extent of the damage, but the assessment has not yet been completed."

An official with GSA could not be reached Monday for comment on what prompted the courthouse to close.

Offices within the courthouse will be relocated somewhere in the Wilmington area, said Moore. GSA will determine where those offices will go.

According to NWS forecasters, if waters reach a little more than 6 feet, Water Street would be covered for two blocks, beginning near the courthouse steps to about a block south of Market Street. "The deepest water on Water Street is 6 to 12 inches deep in the center of the road just south of Market Street," stated the report.

If levels reach 8 feet, which was about the height predicted for the highest point at about 11 p.m. Monday, there could be up to 3 feet of water on Water Street.

The Wilmington Convention Center has also reported extensive damage, but not from flooding, city spokesman Dylan Lee said Monday. Water damage was sustained from wind and rain. Lee said crews are working on drying out the convention center, adding that damages will be further assessed.

So far, flooding has not been an issue for the Wilmington Convention Center, and city officials are hopeful that flooding will not be an issue Monday evening, Lee said.

The city of Wilmington sent out a notice Friday advising area businesses and residents about the downtown flooding. Officials with the city said they continue to monitor the rising waters in the downtown area during high tide.
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