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Were locks and dams left open during hurricanes Fran or Floyd, causing damage downstream?

Ken Little
StarNews
From Wikipedia

From Wikipedia

Q. Is there any record of the locks and dam system of North Carolina being open during either hurricane Fran or Floyd, causing damage to be much worse downstream? The rumor is saying that “Raleigh” thinks their property is more important than ours in Pender County, which is why they opened the “floodgates,” as the rumor is saying.

A. A written response was issued Friday, Sept. 19, by the Wilmington District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The answer includes input from a former lockmaster from Lock and Dam 1 near Riegelwood, Corps spokesman Henry G. Heusinkveld said.

Here’s the response to the question:

“The locks on the Cape Fear River remain closed during flood events, and flood waters pass over the wide dams adjacent to the locks. Both sides of each lock cannot be opened at the same time. During severe flooding, it is possible for the locks to be underwater.

“However, at that point water is passing over the locks and not through them. The Wilmington District-operated Jordan Dam and Reservoir is located upstream of the locks and dams on the Cape Fear River, and it stores flood waters coming down the Haw River. We release them in a controlled manner that doesn’t make downstream flooding worse.

“However, operations at Jordan Dam can still only have a limited impact on flows in the Lower Cape Fear River below the locks and dams since Jordan Dam only regulates floodwaters coming down the Haw River.

“Floodwaters draining into the Deep River and the Cape Fear River below Jordan Dam contribute over two-thirds of the flow (based on drainage area) that impacts the lower Cape Fear River, so those flows can potentially have a much greater impact.

“In a post-hurricane scenario in Pender County, the Northeast Cape Fear River and Black River converge to flow into the main stem of the Cape Fear River. The flows from the Cape Fear River are usually larger than the smaller Northeast Cape Fear River and Black River which can cause backwater flooding up those rivers into Pender County.”

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User-contributed question by:
Richard Beacham

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