State of emergency declared in NC County as Tar River continues to rise

This image shows flood waters in Edgecombe County, North Carolina. Credit: WNCN CBS North Carolina

PINETOPS, N.C. (WNCN) — Edgecombe County has declared a state of emergency after this week’s heavy rains left some areas flooded and the Tar River has yet to crest, county officials said.

Public schools in the county will be closed Thursday, officials said.

Several roads throughout the county are impassable and people on Bynum Farm Road, just outside Pinetops, have been evacuated due to flooding.

The Tar River has continued to rise since the rain ended Tuesday morning, but it has not yet reached its peak in Edgecombe County, county officials said.

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“It’s to the point where you want to break down and cry, but you got to be strong,” said Ashley Simmons, who was working with her family to get ready to leave their home Wednesday.

With the water creeping closer, they didn’t feel safe staying.

“It’s time to go,” she said. “It’s time to go. I just can’t take it anymore.”

Officials said that according to the National Weather Service, the Tar River isn’t expected to crest in Tarboro until Saturday morning. At that time, the river is expected to reach 30.5 feet at the Tarboro “Town Bridge” river gauge. Major flood stage at the gauge is 32 feet and normal flood stage is 19 feet, officials said.

The river reached 36.2 feet after Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and 41.5 feet after Hurricane Floyd in 1999.

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The section of the Tar River in Louisburg crested at 22.8 feet on Wednesday. Flood stage there is 20 feet. The Tar River also crested in Rocky Mount Thursday morning at 25.8 feet. Flood stage is 21 feet.

Officials have opened an emergency shelter at 500 Davis St. in Tarboro. It’s known as the “Old Tarboro Edgecombe County Academy” to locals. The shelter will remain open until further notice.

Edgecombe County officials are asking all property owners to monitor the flooding situation and to make plans in case flooding occurs in their area. Residents in low-lying areas are being advised to remain on alert.

Officials said that all major updates on conditions in the county will be posted on their website and on Facebook.