The city of Raleigh is asking more than 26,000 Raleigh residents to seek higher ground.
Residents in areas that flood regularly, including north of Crabtree Creek and south of Walnut Creek, are being notified, city officials announced Wednesday.
The homes are not being evacuated, but city officials are strongly encouraging people who have experienced flooding or have had their home cut off by flooded roads before to stay with friends and families.
More than 26,500 people within the city limits live in a floodplain. Raleigh’s population is just under 500,000.
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“If we get the type of rain that is being predicted with this storm, those areas will flood,” said Blair Hinkle, Raleigh’s assistant engineering services director. “I know there are areas that have swift-water rescues and those who had to be rescued in their homes. If that has ever happened before in an area where you live, we encourage to seek higher ground.”
The city of Raleigh has a map of flood-prone areas on its website, and the state has created a flood-risk Information system where people can plug in their address to see their flooding risk.
The city has three water-rescue teams with more on standby that can rescue people who are trapped or in danger, but the safety of city personnel and limited resources must be considered, City Manager Ruffin Hall said.
When there are sustained winds of 50 mph, the city’s fire and police departments will generally suspend all operations for the safety of the employees. The fire and police departments will evaluate the threat.
“Let me just say that regardless of the situation, we will do everything to protect lives and property,” he said. “That involves judgment that they know how to make, but when conditions get severe enough we will protect our equipment and employees as well.”
Raleigh officials ask people to call 911 if there is a life-threatening emergency but to call 919-996-2999 to report non-emergencies including roads that are flooded and trees that have fallen into roads.
Notifications began Wednesday afternoon through emails, text messages and phone calls. People who can’t be reached will get a flier from the Raleigh Fire Department.
Fire fighters from station 11 were in some Raleigh apartment complexes including Brentwood West, where there was a waster rescue just last week.
A man in an electric wheelchair was trying to get to his apartment when the wheels stopped spinning in the grass, said Raleigh Fire Capt. Josh Ellis. The man slipped and fell into a nearby creek.
“He was stuck there for about 15 minutes until someone heard him,” Ellis said. “They called the water rescue, and we were able to go down there with a ladder.”
A majority of the fliers were given to property managers to give to residents but some fire fighters did go door-to-door.
Stevie Lett was pulling into his apartment complex when the fire fighters stopped him. He has lived in those apartments for a few years and remembers the nearby flooding from Hurricane Matthews. His family has stocked up supplies and plans to ride out the storm. If it gets too bad, he said he’ll pack everyone up and head to his mom’s place.
Luis Luque lives on a lower level of the apartment complex and pointed to a pump the property manager gave him.
“It flooded last month,” he said. “They give pumps to the first floor, so we’re used to it happening.”