The flooding from Hurricane Florence — now a tropical storm — has cut off at least one town in eastern North Carolina.
The two main roads through Beulaville, a town of a thousand people, are impassable or nearly so, said Shane Rhodes, assistant fire chief in Beulaville. The two roads: N.C. 111 and N.C. 241.
“If this water don’t come down we’re going to be living on an island,” Rhodes said Saturday. “It did this during Hurricane Floyd but this is worse.”
N.C. 241, the main route to Kinston, a bigger town just to the north, is impassable for even emergency responders. A community college in Kinston, in Lenoir County, is home to the nearest shelter for 14 people trapped on the other side of the flooding on N.C. 241 from Beulaville.
N.C. 111 is being flooded by Gum Branch Creek.
Rhodes said he is frustrated that N.C. Department of Transportation hasn’t yet blocked the routes, noting that roads left un-barricaded put lives at risk.
“I don’t know why the DOT hasn’t barricaded this yet. We’ve asked them and this happens every time,” Rhodes said, referring to major weather events. “This is how people get swept away.”
“It don’t take much water to lift a car,” he added. Rhodes is driving a large Chevy truck weighted down with 250 gallons of water.
Flooding is the worst Rhodes has ever seen in the area. Houses are underwater, roads are blocked.
A Citizen Times reporter riding along with Rhodes around Beulaville noted there were constant calls of stranded vehicles. One call mentioned a family of three stranded in the water; crews were trying to figure out where. Another was a report of two people stranded in a car that was taking on water.
The car with two passengers was soon located but couldn’t be reached without a boat.
Rhodes said that before a FEMA team arrived, the town was relying on residents with boats to help with rescues.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has noted in multiple updates that most flooding deaths happen in vehicles.
“Around here a lot of people stayed,” Rhodes said. “There’s animals here, hogs, turkeys, chicken. You’ve gotta keep them alive to feed the people of the world.”
He added that the biggest issue with flooding is people can’t get feed to their livestock. “They’ve stocked up, but the feed stores will only last a couple days.”