Florence vs Matthew: North Carolina rivers may crest higher than 2016 hurricane

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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Hurricane Florence is bringing historic rainfall to North Carolina, and those numbers are only going to rise in spots.

A major concern for many counties is flooding, especially flooding near some of our bigger rivers.

With all big rain events, officials look for rivers to crest, which is the highest stage or level of a flood wave as it passes a particular point.

In 2016, Hurricane Matthew brought flooding concerns to many parts of the state, leaving homes and businesses damaged nearly two years later.

And with Hurricane Florence, officials are planning for a similar outcome.

Where the rain gauges sit as of Sunday morning, the crest for Hurricane Matthew is set higher than the projected crests for the Tar and Neuse rivers for Florence.

On Wednesday, those numbers held true.

The bigger concerns were the Cape Fear and Little rivers.

The Cape Fear River at Fayetteville reached the flood stage early in the week and rose to roughly 61.5' on early Wednesday morning, 2.6' above Matthew.

It is expected to reach below flood levels by Sunday.

However, the Cape Fear River at Lillington has been receding for at least 24 hours and is expected to reach below flood levels by Thursday.

As a precaution, residents within one mile of banks of both rivers were evacuated Saturday afternoon.

Person Street Bridge has been closed because of flooding; waters have spilled onto the Person Street, Cedar Creek intersection.

Here's the flooding forecast until Tuesday/Wednesday (these may change):

Cape Fear/Little River

Fayetteville and Manchester

Lillington and Lumberton

Neuse River

Smithfield and Goldsboro

Haw River/Deep River

Bynum area and Louisburg

What's next

Rivers will continue or start to recede. Once those levels are safe enough for officials to access them, they will begin to assess the damage like the conditions of roads and bridges.