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Wilson spared brunt of the storm

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Hurricane Florence’s deluge of eastern North Carolina was kinder to Wilson County than neighboring communities, but officials urge residents not to relax just yet.

Wilson County Emergency Management Director Gordon Deno said Contentnea Creek is not monitored as much as nearby rivers; therefore, no one is quite sure when it will peak, but the more westward track of Florence dumped lots of water and that water will work its way downstream toward Wilson in the coming days. “The rain has not let up west of here,” Deno said on Sunday. “We are not 100 percent out of the woods.”

Rivers and lakes continue to rise as well. Rain totals for Wilson County as of Sunday morning were between 6 to 8 inches, according to the National Weather Service.

“We expect lake and river levels to rise over the next few days,” said Rebecca Agner, city of Wilson spokeswoman. “Please use caution when visiting these spots, such as Wiggins Mill and Lake Wilson. Stay aware of the water levels, and keep children and pets well away from moving water.”

As of Sunday, no injuries were reported due to the storm over the weekend. Deno said residents still need to watch for high water going into this week.

“People just need to use common sense,” he said. “If they do encounter water across the road, don’t drive through it.”

WEEKEND AND SHELTER

Throughout the weekend, city and county officials reported several downed trees and limbs and minimal power outages. Some roads were also flooded.

“It’s minor compared to what we’ve had in the past,” Deno said referring to Hurricane Matthew.

Deno said Stantonsburg does have flooding in typical areas, which include N.C. 222 and Pelt Road. He said they were not aware of any water rescues in that area. Deno said the shelter at Darden Middle School was closed Saturday. Officials moved the shelter at Fike High School to the previous U.S. Bankruptcy Court building on Parkwood Boulevard for residents of Onslow County.

Wilson County Schools will be closed again on Monday.

WILSON COUNTY STORIES

Here are a few stories from folks who were affected and anticipate more inconveniences even though the major threat of Hurricane Florence has passed:

• Contentnea Creek had already covered a portion of Woodbridge Road Saturday, but as someone who has lived on the road since 1991, Stantonsburg resident Cledus Basford knows what is coming. In fact, during Hurricane Floyd, he used the sleeper cab of his tractor-trailer to rescue a family of six from a house on the other side of the floodwater.

“It doesn’t have to be a hurricane to cover the road, and when Raleigh opens their flood gates, this area will flood,” he said. “I guess they are more important than we are, at least that is the way it seems to work some times.”

• Russell Williamson said his mother, Susan, is fine after a mammoth tree split and part of it crushed a large portion of her house on N.C. 42 West near Deans Farm Friday afternoon. “Not a scratch on her,” he said.

There is extensive damage, however, to the house that Williamson said is more than 100 years old.

• With a variety of lures, Wilsonian Willie Bridges was among a handful of fishermen hoping the higher water level at Wiggins Mill would bring them a little luck.

“We didn’t have many issues, so now I’m just here killing time,” Bridges said. “The storm ain’t over though. The water is going to rise tomorrow and the next day.”

• Sandra Heggeness, an American Red Cross volunteer from North Dakota, was among those tasked with carrying for the evacuees at Darden Middle School from the time it opened Thursday to when it closed Saturday. Because the hurricane affected so much of the region, supplies were sparse, but a call from U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield to Wal-Mart executives helped.

“Wal-Mart brought over air mattresses for everybody,” said Heggeness, a retired office manager. “All the clients and the staff got one, so it was the first good night sleep I’ve had since I’ve been on deployment.”

• Giselle Sanchez of Wilson was among the first to get out of Dodge when the Fike High School shelter opened Wednesday. She has been back home since, but downed trees, flooded roads and an uptick in snakes seeking high ground has her worried about her children.

“I have my house, but I’m scared,” she said. “My neighbors keep talking about all the snakes and we have some abandoned houses and everything is wet, so I need to make sure it is OK before I bring my family back in that house.”

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