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Local Flood Hazard:
The dominant source of flooding in Pitt County is riverine flooding. Riverine flooding from heavy rainfall occurs on the Tar River, Hardee Creek, Juniper Branch, Indian Wells Swamp, Moyes Run-Cannon Swamp, the tributaries of Baldwin Swamp, the tributaries of Pinelog Branch, Contentnea Creek, Little Contentnea Creek, Middle Swamp Marsh, Black Swamp, Briery Swamp, Chicod Creek, Clayroot Swamp, Conetoe Creek, Crisp Creek, Cow Swamp, Creeping Swamp, Fork Swamp, Great Branch, Grindle Creek, Gum Swamp, Harris Mill Run, Hunting Run, Jacob Branch, Kitten Creek, Lawerence Run, Meadow Branch, Middle Swamp, Otter Creek, Pea Branch, Poley Branch, Swift Creek, Tranters Creek, and Tyson Creek.
North Carolina also experiences hurricanes, tropical storms, and severe extra-tropical cyclones, known as "Nor'easters." These storms passing through the county have historically produced flooding and property damage. Flood losses are also caused by the cumulative effect of obstructions in the floodplain causing increases in flood heights and velocities, and by the occupancy in flood hazard areas vulnerable to floods or hazardous to other lands, which are inadequately elevated, flood proofed, or otherwise unprotected from flood damages.
Click here for a map of Pitt County's Flood Hazard Areas.
Flood Plain Development Permit Requirements:
Prior to the initiation of any development work in a flood hazard area local permits must be applied for an issued to ensure that it will not aggravate the effects of flooding and that the structures are flood damage resistant. Development work includes excavation, dredging, filling, dumping, bulk heading, driving of piles, clearing, or alteration of land prior to building, alteration of shore bank or bottom of any waterway. Please contact the Pitt County Building Inspections Department at 902.3185 or the Planning Department at 902.3250 if you are planning to perform any of the previously mentioned development work.
Property Protection Measures:
Every year, flooding causes more property damage in the United States than any other type of natural disaster. While recent improvements in construction practices have made new homes less prone to flood damage, there are a significant number of existing houses that continue to be susceptible to repetitive losses. Many of these homeowners feel they are trapped in a never ending cycle of flooding and repairing. The house is rarely the same, and its value usually declines.
However, there are ways this cycle of repetitive flooding can be broken. Throughout the country, many examples can be found to illustrate practical and cost-effective methods for reducing or eliminating the risk of a house being flooded again. Or in cases where flooding may be unavoidable, steps are taken to reduce the amount of damages incurred. Some have reduced their flood losses by taking temporary measures such as moving furniture and equipment to upper floors or to higher elevations. Others have held back rising waters by sandbagging or building temporary levees. More permanent approaches have also been used. The Federal Insurance Administration has published a manual that describes various techniques that can be used to flood proof an existing building. This process is known as "retrofitting."
The Design Manual for Retrofitting Floodprone Structures presents a series of permanent retrofitting measures that can be incorporated into an existing house to reduce or eliminate the potential of future flooding. The measures covered include:
- Elevation of a structure
- Relocation of a structure
- Use of levees and floodwalls
- Sealing a structure
- Protection of utilities
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) requires that if the cost of reconstruction, rehabilitation, addition, or other improvements to a building exceeds 50% of the buildings market value, then the building must meet the same construction requirements as a new building. Substantially damaged buildings must also be brought up to current elevation standards.(i.e., a structure damaged so that the cost of repairs equals or exceeds 50% of the building's value before it was damaged must be elevated to or above the base flood elevation.)
There are several actions residents of flood hazard areas can take to decrease the potential of injury due to flooding. These include:
- Be familiar with local flood warning procedures as mentioned in this notice.
- Do not attempt to cross a flowing stream where water is above your knees.
- Keep children away from flood waters, ditches, culverts, and storm drains.
- If your vehicle stalls in high water, abandon it immediately and seek higher ground.
- Evacuate the flood hazard area in times of impending flood or when advised to do so by Pitt County officials.
- Just prior to evacuations, cut off all electrical circuits at the fuse panel or disconnect switches. If this in not possible, disconnect all electrical appliances and shut off the water services and gas valves in your home.
The county receives flood warnings from the National Weather Service via the Emergency Broadcast System and the N.C. Division of Emergency Management. Within 24 hours or less, the Pitt County Emergency Services Office acts upon all warnings received and disseminates important information to the public via local radio, television stations, fixed siren systems, public address systems, and the Emergency Broadcast System. The county has also adopted an Emergency Operations Plan to address multiple hazards that threaten the jurisdiction. This document presents a basic plan for Pitt County officials that clearly defines who will do what and when during an emergency.
Usually, your homeowners insurance policy does not cover losses due to flooding. Pitt County participates in the National Flood Insurance Program which makes federal flood insurance available to everyone in the county. Pitt County is in the process of joining the Community Rating System Program. By implementing this program, Pitt County will afford its citizens the ability to receive discounts on there flood insurance premiums. Call your insurance agent regarding these rates and other information specific to your policy. Being in the regular phase of the NFIP, a detailed flood insurance study has been done and Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) developed. Property owners within the county may purchase flood insurance as follows:
Single-Family Dwelling $250,000
2-4 Family Dwelling $250,000
Other residential $250,000
The drainage system in Pitt County is made up of the Tar and Neuse Rivers and their many tributaries. In addition to serving as a drainage basin, the Tar and Neuse Rivers also serves as a recreational waterways so they must be kept clear and navigable. A community can lose some of its drainage system storage capacity due to dumping, debris, soil erosion, sedimentation, and overgrowth of vegetation. When this happens, flooding is more likely to occur and may subject more property to the flood hazard. It is illegal to dump anything into or intentionally degrade the system. Report violations to the Planning Department at 252.902.3250.
Natural & Beneficial Functions of Floodplains:
In addition to the natural beauty of our rivers and wetlands these, features dissipate wave forces, reduce frequency and duration of surface flow, provide habitat for fish, wildlife, and other vegetation, and filter various forms of runoff. Fortunately, the State of North Carolina has implemented Buffer Rules to protect the areas immediately adjacent to our waterbodies from undesirable development that could be detrimental to their functions. For further information on these Buffer Rules, please contact NCDENR at 919.733.7984.
For futher information on Floodplain Management in Pitt County click here.
Additional information on floodplain management is available on the FEMA website located at www.fema.gov.