Officials: 138 water rescues from flood waters in NC

Flooding in downtown Windsor, North Carolina on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016. (Photo: Scott Sauer, Bertie County Manager)

WINDSOR, N.C. (WAVY) — Governor Pat McCrory said Friday that swift water rescue teams from Greensboro, North Carolina came in to rescue 138 people from the floods in Bertie and Chowan counties.

State officials on Thursday afterrnoon issued a state of emergency for Bertie County, as well as for 10 other counties.

Photos: Major flooding in downtown Windsor

According to the Red Cross, an emergency shelter is open at Bertie County High School. Residents are encouraged to take shelter if their homes have been affected.

“We highly advise that anyone considering an evacuation please do it before nightfall,” County Manager Scott Sauer said in a news release. “It is safer for responders and evacuees to evacuate during daylight hours. Please use extreme caution at all times and people should stay clear of any standing flood water.”

Red Cross officials and Bertie County Department of Social Services staff will be on hand at the school shelter.

Parts of Bertie and Chowan counties saw up to 17 inches of rain. This flooding is the highest reported in Windsor since Oct. of 2010.

Some residents told 10 On Your Side’s Marielena Balouris that they have not seen anything like this since around 1999 and Hurricane Floyd.

Chopper 10 flew over the area Thursday afternoon.

County officials say they began putting together preliminary damage assessment teams Friday. They plan to coordinate with the state’s emergency management staff in seeking emergency relief and recovery funding.

Emergency Services Director Mitchell Cooper stated Thursday, “This is a team effort and we are very thankful for the firefighters, law enforcement and state officials for their continued support.”

10 On Your Side’s Marielena Balouris spent Thursday in Windsor and spoke with many people who called this flooding “devastating.”

First responders from nearby towns, as well as swift rescue teams from Fayetteville and Greensboro, spent the day out on the water. One rescuer, Jim Riddick, says this is the third time in 17 years that he has helped rescue people in Windsor. For him, the third time is just as upsetting as the first.

Riddick said, “It’s a thing you just don’t get over. And anytime you hear of a storm coming up, you’re always in that mode. You’re in, ‘Oh god, what is it going to do to us this time?'”

This time, the flood covered downtown Windsor, destroying homes and businesses.

“It’s over our heads in the restaurant right now. I mean it’s devastating. We’re supposed to start oyster season next Saturday and there’s no way. There’s no way we’re going to be able to be open,” said Heather Lawicki, who co-owns a restaurant in town. She knows there’s a long way to go before they are able to operate normally.

“It’s going to be hard to call everybody and let them know that they don’t have jobs next week,” said Lawicki.

She says the town is close-knit, and she’s hopeful they can work together to rebuild.

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