Neighbor worries as officials release water from Falls Lake into Neuse River

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — A group of homeowners in Raleigh still cleaning up from last week’s flooding, is bracing for more water. This time the water is coming from Falls Lake, and they say it can be prevented.

UPDATE: Engineers to increase water release at Falls Lake Dam after last week’s flooding

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is working to release thousands of gallons of water to alleviate flooding at Falls Lake.

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After last week’s rain, water levels at Falls Lake were nearly 10 feet above normal. Days later, park boat ramps and swimming beaches were closed.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said they began to release water into the Neuse River this past Sunday and will continue to release larger amounts of water each day for at least two weeks.

The Falls Lake Dam was created to keep folks downstream of Raleigh from being flooded by the Neuse River with every major rain. But now the water it’s been holding back needs to be let out.

Officials said they are monitoring downstream conditions, but river levels are expected to be below moderate flood stages by the time the releases reach downstream and should remain that way, the Corps said.

“We basically are looking at river levels downstream, the conditions downstream, and weather conditions that we face in the next week,” said Carol Banaitis, operations project manager for the Army Corps of Engineers.

By the end of the week the Corps is expecting to release water at 6,000 cubic feet per second. A cubic foot of water is about seven gallons.

“Everything here will be underwater,” said Ed Smallwood, who lives downstream.

He says every time Falls Lake releases that much water that fast, the neighborhood roads gets flooded.

“We can’t get in and out at all, nor can emergency medical services vehicles get in or out,” he said.

After Hurricane Matthew hit, the highest rate Falls Lake released water was 4,000 cubic feet per second. Smallwood says that would keep them in the clear. But Banaitis says this situation is different.

“There’s predictions of additional rainfall later this week here in the Raleigh area, so we’ll end up having to release water a little bit faster in this situation,” she said.

Smallwood says it is one thing to be flooded by what he calls an act of God. He understands the risks of living next to the river. He says it’s another situation completely to be repeatedly flooded by an act of man.

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