BURGAW – When river levels began rising last year after a late-April storm dumped five to eight inches of rain across North Carolina’s Piedmont, North Carolina Emergency Management warned community leaders along the Neuse River what day and time the river would crest and just how high-water levels would reach in their community. A series of flood gauges provided that critical data.
In Pender County, along the Black River, a new gauge has been installed.
“This state-of-the-art gauge provides real time data,” said Tom Collins, Pender County Emergency Manger. “This gauge is a part of the FIMAN system – Flood Inundation Mapping and Alert Network.”
“Time and again over the last several years, we’ve used data from these flood gauges to warn residents and communities about dangerous flood conditions,” said Mike Sprayberry, state emergency management director.
The new gauge in Pender County will join the state’s network of more than 560 strategically positioned river and coastal gauges that measure water levels to warn first responders and residents who live and work near flood-prone areas. As the backbone of the state’s FIMAN system, the gauges provide real-time data that’s used to formulate forecasts, issue alerts and predict the flood’s impact to buildings and infrastructure. The data collected by emergency management is also available to NOAA and the National Weather Service to be incorporated into their flood forecasts.
During Hurricane Matthew, FIMAN was used to accurately direct evacuations and deploy resources. It can show precisely which buildings and homes will flood when local rivers or streams reach certain flood levels.
Sprayberry said much of the flood data is available in real time through the ReadyNC mobile app developed by NCEM. App users can click on Flood Gauges to check the current status of creeks and rivers nearby to see if the stream is at normal levels or minor, moderate or major flood stage.
While the state has purchased and installed most of the gauges, several communities also have bought devices to add to the state’s flood-warning system.
“The Board of Pender County Commissioners paid $20,000 for the installation of the gauge,” said Collins. “It will be state maintained and will provide us important information before, during, and after a flood event.”
“Adding new gauges in these areas will help communities be more aware and prepared for flooding, and will allow for better warning when floods are coming,” said State Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry. “FIMAN is a powerful tool that helps us predict very accurately what areas will be affected by flood waters, so emergency managers and local officials can take the appropriate actions to keep people safe.”