flood maps from 2006 and 2016
North Carolina Floodplain Mapping Program

New state maps detailing the risk of coastal flooding show some areas are less flood-prone than previously calculated.

If the updated maps are approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, more than 31,000 properties in coastal North Carolina will have their flood risk classification downgraded.

Flooding in Chapel Hill on Sunday
Jstn568 / wunderground

Flooding and hurricanes are the main natural threats facing North Carolina, according to a new risk assessment map published online by the World Bank.

The interactive map is designed to help developers and project planners anticipate natural disasters and the impact of climate change.

Flash flooding led first responders to evacuate residents of two Chapel Hill apartment complexes.
Jess Clark

Flash flooding led firefighters to evacuate residents of two Chapel Hill apartment complexes Wednesday afternoon.

The Walters Dam on the Pigeon River in Waterville.
ChristopherM / Wikipedia

Fourteen dams failed in South Carolina as a result of heavy storms in the region. North Carolina escaped that fate this time around.

Bridget Munger of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality says the state regulates more than 2,600 active dams. Many are classified as low- and intermediate-hazard levels, which means a failure could block road ways and cause thousands of dollars in damage. But nearly half of state regulated dams are considered high-hazard.

Falls Lake
JCWF / Wikipedia

Reservoirs are full and over-flowering after North Carolina received 15-inches of rain in the past week.

State Climatologist Ryan Boyles says that's about three-months-worth of rain. Boyles says the rain was welcome, at first, after a very dry summer.

"Sometimes it's either too little or too much, and it's not very often that we can get just the right amount," Boyles said. "But in particular, it's tough to manage when so much rain falls over such a short period of time. The ground just can't absorb it."

Governor Pat McCrory addressed a gaggle of local officials and media members on Tuesday in Brunswick County. He says the main focus now is determining how to best help farmers in the eastern region of the state effected by weekend storms.
Jeff Tiberii

Many farmers in eastern North Carolina continue to assess crop damage following weekend storms. Flooded fields are expected to result in depleted peanut, sweet potato and cotton harvests this fall. Governor Pat McCrory expressed concern about the agriculture industry at a Tuesday briefing.

A picture of a flooded New Jersey pumpkin patch.
Jackie / Wikipedia

The worst of the stormy weather has passed. But Brian Long of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services says the trouble is still ahead for farmers.

"Unfortunately, the impacts are on some of the crops that are major for North Carolina: Peanuts, sweet potatoes, cotton, tobacco, soybeans, in particular. And then you think about farmers, such as pumpkin farmers, that this is the time of year when their crop is in demand, and we're hearing some reports of pumpkins, you know, actually just floating in water in fields."

A picture of a puddle.
Wars / Wikipedia

Several storms, including Hurricane Joaquin, have brought heavy rains, strong winds, and high tides to North Carolina. It's causing flooding, saturated ground, slick roads and falling trees.

Route 12 on Hatteras Island was cut in five locations by Hurricane Irene.
Steve Helber / AP

The National Hurricane Center will be providing new warnings about storm surge starting next year. 

In the past, hurricane warnings have been issued based on wind predictions. Now, storm surge will be taken into account as well.

Jamie Rhome of the National Hurricane Center says that is especially important for states like North Carolina.

"I can't just say that storm surge is going to be bad in North Carolina because in some places it is going to catastrophic and in the next community over it might not be so bad," Rhome says.

An illustration of Hurricane Arthur's projected path.
National Weather Service

Category one Hurricane Arthur has maximum sustained winds of 80 miles per hour.

Hatteras Island residents have begun a mandatory evacuation this morning, and a State of Emergency has been issued for all of Dare County. Hyde County has issued a voluntary evacuation for Ocracoke Island for 2 p.m. today.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Lara Pagano said North Carolinians can expect to feel the effects of the hurricane's outer bands today.

A preliminary flood maps show gains and reductions in base flood elevation along the coast.
NC Department of Public Safety

It would be easy to look at the newest round of floodplain maps and think that we've been wrong about the Outer Banks all this time.

For the past decade, the standard line has been that things on the coast are getting worse. Sea levels are rising; the shoreline is eroding; flooding is becoming a bigger threat. Flood risk is largely determined by a series of maps produced by the state of North Carolina. Those maps then make their way to FEMA, who administer the National Flood Insurance Program. Basically, the higher your risk, the more you pay in flood insurance.


This month, North Carolina launched FRIS, the Flood Risk Information System. It's the first system of its kind in the country to put all of the state's flood risk data, county-by-county, building-by-building, into one digital initiative.

It's not the prettiest map ever designed, but it's full of all sort of information that used to require a lot of manpower to produce for whoever wanted it.


Engineers in Raleigh's Storm Water Utilities Department are planning to replace dams protecting some capital city neighborhoods.  Each project is expected to begin next year with costs into the millions of dollars.

A screen shot from the Surge Guidance System shows storm surge data from Hurricane Sandy, which hit the east coast in October 2012.

Researchers at UNC-Chapel Hill are using storm surge data to give coastal communities a better idea of what they can expect during hurricanes. 

The university's Renaissance Computing Institute, or RENCI, has a network called the Surge Guidance System.  It gathers intricate details of ocean activity to calculate where, how and when storm surge will affect certain areas. 

Flooding in Chapel Hill on Sunday
Jstn568 / wunderground

Orange County continues to recover from weekend flooding, and officials are trying to secure relief funding for those displaced.

At a news conference today, Chapel Hill officials said close to 130 residences are unlivable due to water damage from weekend rain. It's unclear when, or if, people who lived in those units can go back home.

Several feet of flood waters trap cars on West Franklin St. in Chapel Hill Sunday afternoon.
Bart Smith / Facebook

Residents of Orange and Durham counties are cleaning up after torrential rain led to flood waters several feet deep. 

Officials in Chapel Hill say rescuers evacuated at least 40 people Sunday from flooded homes and vehicles.  They were taken to a Red Cross shelter at Smith Middle School. 

Air Force airmen lay sandbags to protect against a flooding disaster in MO in 2011.
Dept. of Defense

Current and former members of the military want to talk about how climate change could be threatening national security. 

A public meeting in Fayetteville tonight will include discussions about evidence linking climate change to a rising risk of stronger natural disasters.  Spring Lake mayor Chris Rey is one of the speakers at the meeting and a former Army captain.  He says storms that cause widespread damage divert military resources, leaving the impacted areas more vulnerable.

Hurricane Ivan

Forecasters are urging North Carolinians to have an emergency plan for hurricanes before the season starts. 

Researchers at UNC-Chapel Hill are helping communities develop better plans for dealing with floods. The result could be lower flood insurance rates for homeowners.

Dave DeWitt: Flood insurance is a major consideration for many in eastern North Carolina, where some entire counties lie in the floodplain. Since private insurers won’t offer policies, homeowners get flood insurance through National Flood Insurance Program, run by FEMA.

North Carolina has seen its fair share of both flooding and drought over the past several years. One of the problems has been getting accurate information, especially in rural areas. Francios Birgand is a biological engineering researcher at N.C. State. He led the development of the 'Gauge-Cam'. He says he and his team wanted to explore the possibility of using wireless imaging technologies to help track water flows in streams and rivers.

Wayne Goodwin

The North Carolina Department of Insurance has set up a series of temporary insurance assistance centers in areas hardest hit by Hurricane Irene. The centers are designed to help customers who believe they are not being treated fairly by insurance companies.

Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin decided to open the centers after his office fielded a steady stream of complaints from customers in coastal counties.

Goodwin says many complaints have centered on non-existent or non-communicative insurance adjusters.

FEMA's announcement that it won't run out of funds this week is good news for counties in eastern North Carolina. Local governments have been fronting the bill for disaster relief without a guarantee of reimbursement after Hurricane Irene. In Hyde County, health director Wesley Smith says officials ordered an insecticide spray from low-flying planes for 20,000 acres. He says flooding caused a boom in the mosquito population.

Hurricane Irene's flood waters caused some waste water treatment plants to overflow in the eastern part of the state while cutting off power to others. State officials are warning people in flooded areas to avoid contact with contaminated water as they begin the arduous task of clean up. Susan Massengale works for the North Carolina Division of Water Quality.