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Farmers describe threat from flooding due to dam releases

March 8, 2019

WINDSOR, N.C. (AP) — Some North Carolina counties say their economies are being threatened by flooding from dam releases upstream.

WITN in Greenville reports officials in Bertie County say they’ve seen multiple floods because of water being released at Kerr Lake Dam on the North Carolina-Virginia line, and they want state leaders to lower the amount of water being released. County commission chairman John Trent says the flooding is also causing road closures and affecting wildlife habitats.

Trent also notes one section of the county has experienced nine floods since 2017.

Trent says the Army Corps of Engineers has increased the amount of water being released from the dam in recent years, a move that he says came after a study showed the change would mitigate flooding.

“We are not getting any flood control. It’s just a controlled flooding of our low grounds down here,” said John Griffin, who farms hundreds of acres along the Roanoke River.

Griffin’s family has kept fields in the county for a century, and he says he’s never seen the area flood as it has. Flooding damaged his crops in 2018.

“I personally have lost between $250,000 and $275,000 of crop,” Griffin said, adding that his sage fields are set to be harvested soon even though they are flooded.

“Everybody sees the problem but they say, ‘Oh well, you know it isn’t gonna change overnight,’” he said.

Four other counties — Washington, Martin, Northampton and Halifax — are seeing similar issues. The Bertie County Commissioners could consider a resolution to address the flooding at their next meeting in April. If passed, the resolution would go to the other four counties affected and from there could be sent to state and federal legislators.


Information from: WITN-TV, http://www.witn.com/

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