Ken Larsen's web site - Hurricane Florence floods Chapel Hill - September 17, 2018


Severe floods have struck Chapel Hill eight times since 1972:

[FEMA flood map tool]


Below are pictures of parts of my neighborhood (Briarcliff) and neighboring Ridgefield after remnants of Hurricane Florence dumped nine inches of rain on Chapel Hill over three days.  I took the pictures on September 17, 2018.


I live at 807 Emory Drive.  It is safely at the top of a hill.  The only impact to me was a large puddle in front of my front steps.  I drained it easily with a pump I have.


These pictures depict some nasty flooding, but Chapel Hill was lucky compared the coastal sections of North Carolina. They got far more rain and flooding.  Whole houses and roads were destroyed.  They may never recover.


907 Emory Drive - It's a rental property owned by Ann Loftin who lives at 308 Barclay Road in Chapel Hill.

Its first floor got flooded.  Flood water surrounded the house moat-like on three sides.

A tributary of Booker Creek runs behind this house in the woods.



South end of Emory Drive.  917 Emory is to the left of the almost completely flooded mailbox.  916 Emory is to the right of its almost flooded mailbox.  Its basement and garage both got flooded.

Here is a picture of this same area after the flood of June 30, 2013.



915 Emory Drive

Ridgefield swimming pool area

Booker Creek runs behind it.
505 Longleaf Drive - across from the pool on Longleaf Drive
To the right of previously shown 505 Longleaf Drive is the end of Longleaf Drive: 807 to 813 Longleaf Drive [Longleaf has a bizarre numbering system]. 

There's a house is at the end of a long driveway that begins near the mailboxes.  Residents had to be rescued by canoe.
1110 Willow Drive
1102 Willow Drive

Crawlspace and a shed got flooded.

This property belongs to my friend Rachel Narula.
1100 Willow Drive

Here is a picture of this same house after the flood of June 30, 2013.
415 Ridgefield, home of my friend David Schwartz and his family.  Water reached his downspout and then began receding.
Apartment complex on South Estes Drive east of 15-501

Some of the residents had to be rescued by boat.
Greenway that runs across Bolin Creek (see bridge) and along the west side of the soccer field
Eastgate shopping center

This picture is a screen shot from this video that was taken and narrated by Julie McClintock of CHALT, a Chapel Hill activist group.

Flooding at Starbucks was so bad that it likely won't be completely restored until January of 2019.  Bruegger's Bagels was also badly affected.


At some point during 2014-2016, the Town did a cleanup of the Town's waterways ... removing beaver dams and debris.  That was very beneficial and helped drop water levels after problematic highs, but unfortunately, that did not avert today's problem. 


Questions for Town management:  1.) When was the cleanup done? and 2.) What is the schedule (if any) for it to be done in the future?


Ken's assessment


It's my opinion that upstream overdevelopment is the root cause of flooding.  Trees get torn down and replaced with concrete buildings and parking lots in the pursuit of money.  That increases the amount and speed at which water enters streams and rivers.  The most adversely affected are the coastal areas, because they are the most downstream.


Today's flooding was worse than when Hurricane Fran struck in 1996.  Regular cleanup of rivers and streams is vital, but upstream overdevelopment is a major cancer and needs to be fixed.  At a minimum, I suggest that impact fees be assessed.  Politicians must address this issue and cease being pawns of developers. 


Eastgate shopping center (one mile northwest of my house) was built in the 1960s in swamp land.  They rearranged the swamp and routed Booker Creek UNDER the shopping center.  I think they should consider daylighting Booker Creek, but instead the Town keeps adding on ... building and paving more and more.


Ken Larsen's home page

Ken's Hurricane Florence preparation