Irma could strike before Hope Mills dam is completed

HOPE MILLS, N.C. (WNCN) – Hurricane Irma will hit right before the completion of a Cumberland County dam which had a 2016 target date before Hurricane Matthew struck.

Hope Mills is hoping to be spared by this storm after severe flooding last fall created major construction setbacks. Mayor Jackie Warner said Thursday that the work was on schedule to be finished by late September.

“Having gone through Hurricane Matthew, yes we’re nervous about this, especially looking at the extent and winds and rain that’s coming with Hurricane Irma. We’re just praying that what will happen is it will go out to sea,” Warner said.

“If we do get rain, if it’s spread out, we can probably handle it. But a large amount of rain in a short period of time is going to be a disaster for us.”

Storms at the start of September brought rainfall significant enough to cause erosion on the sides of the earthen dam. Crews rushed to repair the damage this week and shore up the walls before Irma brings more precipitation.

That work was set to be complete by Thursday evening. Crews removed a bunch of their equipment during the week and planned to move higher ground the rest of what remains.

The mayor said town offices are making preparation efforts for closing roads and opening shelters if necessary.

“We’re wiser than we were back in October last year. We know and have been through a hurricane so we’re preparing and trying to make sure that we know that we’re prepared for whatever is going to come next week,” Warner said.

She advised residents to work on their individual emergency weather plans, stocking supplies and preparing evacuation routes just in case.

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