Waters slowly receding, but long road ahead for Whiteville after flooding from Idalia

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Friday, September 1, 2023
Water receding but headaches remain in Whiteville
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Flooding from Tropical Storm Idalia hit Whiteville and Columbus County particularly hard.

WHITEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- Tropical Storm Idalia moved through from North Carolina and many parts of the state got rain but escaped severe damage.

However, that was not the case in Whiteville, which is in Columbus County. The town saw the most significant flooding of any areas touched by Idalia, especially in its downtown.

"This one, we were not expecting; just thought it was a little bit of rain," said Joyce Mauldin, a Whiteville resident.

Emergency crews said the flooding damaged around 40 businesses. Town leaders have declared a state of emergency for Whiteville because of the flooding.

"I could not walk. I had one of the emergency guys carry me down there, and it's about -- not quite a foot inside the salon there, but I did get in and it's just running right through," First Class Salon & Nails owner Kareesa Pridgen said.

By the evening, the blocked-off area was almost back to where the downtown stores are. The water is still receding but there's a long road ahead to rebuild

This is not the town's first brush with flooding from a hurricane or major storm.

Director of Emergency Services Hal Lowder said some area floods often. He said new ordinances keep people from building more things in the flood plain, but that's already too late for those already here.

"We're playing a lot of catch-up from the sins of our forefathers because we just didn't know at the time," he said.

City officials said the area saw considerable flooding during Hurricane Matthew and Hurricane Florence. The business owners are now left to clean up the latest flood problem.

"I started crying. I've been there three years, but I had no idea it was going to be this bad. I worked till about 7 last night and wasn't really prepared for a flood like this," Pridgen said.

Another business owner says he still hasn't been able to make it inside to assess the damage but after another flooding, he did something to minimize the damage.

"Last time it flooded we went in there and put metal walls on it instead of sheet rock so it can take the flood. Now so just go in there and clean up suck water out and rebuild you know.?" Brad Faulk who owns Mens and Ladies Den Hairstyling tells ABC11.

The area is in a flood plain and some of these businesses have been hit multiple times.

Whiteville downtown businesses flooded from Tropical Storm Idalia

One owner of a gym says they cleaned up Hurricane Matthew, Hurricane Florence and now Idalia. He said Idalia is not quite as bad but enough to cause major headaches

"You get in there and it's just a lot of clean up a lot of rust on the weights, just water lines everywhere you gotta rip out the floor, a lot of renovation work's gotta be done now it's doable but it's a lot of work," said Greg Hewett, who owns Nautilus Fitness Center.

It will likely be another day for the rest of the water to recede -- and for the rebuilding to begin.