Lumber River continues fall from record levels

By: Staff report

LUMBERTON — The Lumber River’s water level is receding and should continue to recede, bringing back into view areas that flooded the worst during and after Hurricane Florence.

But exact information is hard to come by.

“The hurricane did a number on a bunch of equipment,” said Victoria Oliva, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service office in Wilmington.

A gauge at the Lumberton water plant that the National Weather Services uses for collecting water level information is out of operation, she said Monday evening.

The river is expected to fall below flood stage, which is about 13 feet, the early part of next week.

A faulty gauge at the Cutler Moore Bridge was the reason county officials were receiving and disseminating inaccurate data about the Lumber River’s water level, said Shelton Hill, Robeson County section chief for Risk Management. The faulty readings, used by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the weather servie, helped fuel rumors about dams and levees breaking and fueling massive flooding.

Hill was at the county Emergency Operations Center during the storm and resulting flooding. He relayed the most accurate and up-to-date information he could to civic leaders, the news media and the public. The Emergency Operations Center shut down at noon on Monday.

County officials do believe that Hurricane Florence’s flooding will set a record, Hill said. When final, correct, river level information is collected it is believed that the Lumber River will have crested at between 25.3 and 25.5 feet. The river crested at 24.3 feet in October 2016 during Hurricane Matthew.

Rainfall throughout the county varied, Hill said. Some areas received as much as 22 inches of rain and other areas received about 16 inches.

Staff report