Lake approaches limit for holding water

September 8, 2008 4:16:19 PM PDT
Falls Lake is almost six feet above full, due to Tropical Storm Hanna. Residents are now wondering how quick water can be let out from one side of the dam in case another storm hits.

Adrienne DiFranco lives in Wake Forest and says she remembers well the recent drought.

"We were pretty concerned," she said.

The Army Corps of Engineers, which manages Falls Lake, says they are happy to see it brimming. But last week when there were three hurricanes brewing in the Atlantic, they were worried.

"The compounding effect when these storms stack up, it can be a very difficult situation," Falls Lake Manager Tom Freeman said.

Fortunately he says Tropical Storm Hanna still left the lake below its full flood stage and the Corps has the ability to hold back those waters for now.

Which is a relief for towns downstream on the Neuse River --Smithfield has already suffered minor flooding from Hanna.

In the thick of hurricane season, another storm could be a couple of weeks away and the Corps can't allow Falls Lake to remain several feet above full.

"Once we receive those waters we've got to get them away from here in a prudent manner," Freeman said.

Once the Neuse River crests, likely sometime Tuesday, the Corps will begin releasing more water from the Falls Lake dam.

The release will increase gradually until the lake is back to its normal level.

"There's a lot of very badly areas that really flood very badly here so, I think they have to be more watchful," DiFranco said.

After last year's drought, the City of Raleigh asked the Corps of Engineers to leave a little extra water in the lake.

Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker says they did that during the spring and early summer and he is grateful, but he also knows the Corps cannot do that during hurricane season.


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