Dozens of South Mills residents rescued from Matthew’s flooding

WAVY's Erin Kelly got a first-hand look at the flooding from atop a monster truck

WAVY/Erin Kelly
WAVY/Erin Kelly

SOUTH MILLS, N.C. (WAVY) — Residents of the South Mills, North Carolina community witnessed intense flooding after Hurricane Matthew pummeled the region with rains and powerful winds. Days later, the water is still high.

“I never wanna see something like this,” resident Sean Epley said Tuesday. “I’ve got neighbors that say in 29 years they’ve never seen anything like this.”

Flood waters were up to mail boxes and the front doors of some houses in the South Mills community on Tuesday, days after Matthew had drifted out to sea and out of the area.

Derek Agnew traveled on Bunker Hill Road by boat. Water there was four to five feet deep in some places.

“It’s bananas. It came close to coming inside, but fortunately, we were lucky. We haven’t lost power, but the whole back yard’s been flooded,” he said.

Photo: South Mills community flooded from Matthew

Epley said John’s Mobile Homes lent the use of a monster ride truck and residents were helping firefighters launch boats on Monday to assist neighbors.

“I launched a 19-foot center console out of my front yard yesterday…got them up the street and got them out to safety,” Epley said.

As many as 45 people had to leave their homes, according to South Mills Volunteer Fire Department Chief Tommy Banks.

He and his crew gave WAVY News’ Erin Kelly a closer look of the flooding by boat Tuesday afternoon. The water had only gone down about three inches, firefighters estimated.

“This is the highest water I’ve ever seen and I’ve lived around here all my life. It’s as high as I’ve ever seen it. Floyd, it got pretty high. Isabel, pretty high. Irene, it got pretty high… but this is several feet above what I’ve ever seen,” he said.

The fire department was conducting wellness checks for people who were dry in their homes, but could not drive anywhere because of impassable roads.

“Making sure they got food, water, medication, whatever they need, and trying to help them get what they need. A few residents are coming out today to go to a shelter,” he said.

Camden County, Pasquotank County, and Elizabeth City fire departments, the Pasquotank Camden Emergency Management Agency, and the National Guard assisted with the efforts.

A shelter is still open at Knobbs Creek, where 21 people are currently staying.

Banks said a rumor that the Lake Drummond levee had failed was not true. He said there were breaches in an area canal bank, but they were not causing issues and there was no need to evacuate Tuesday afternoon. However, if residents are trapped and can’t get out, they should call 911. Residents with a non-emergency need should call 252-335-4444.

The Army Corp of Engineers is aware of the canal breaches and is working to provide a solution. NCDOT is also monitoring the situation in case the road is affected by the flowing water.

There has also been an overflow of the dike in Newland, resulting in the flooding of 2,500 to 3,000 acres of farmland.