Flooding Brings Concerns Over Dams, Spills, Agriculture Losses

Oct 13, 2016

Forty-eight counties have seen flooding from Hurricane Matthew, and waters are still rising in some areas. State officials are watching dams, checking reports of chemical and fuel spills, and starting to count crop and livestock losses.

Twenty-two people died and thousands were evacuated after Matthew swept through North Carolina last week. But the storm's effects aren't over. Some rivers won't crest for another couple of days.

Dams are the biggest threat, says Tom Reeder, North Carolina's assistant environmental secretary. Especially the Woodlake Dam in Moore County, west of Fayetteville.  

"I don't think we've had a major dam failure yet. We came close with the dam at Woodlake. But we've been working in a team with county officials and the National Guard to pump that lake down. And we've gotten down to where we think the dam is being stabilized," Reeder said.

Reeder says once the floods recede, officials will start cleaning up oil and gasoline spills. Then they'll check water quality and assess long term damage from other spills, such as septic tanks and animal waste. He says the state has dozens of reports of damage to hog waste lagoons.

Duke Energy says a 50-foot section of a cooling pond dam broke at its plant in Goldsboro. But the utility says coal ash ponds in the flood zone are holding.

Agricultural officials don’t have dollar estimates of damages yet, but some are comparing it to Hurricane Floyd in 1999.

Agriculture department spokesman Brian Long says poultry farms have suffered the most - with at least 1.9 million birds lost.