Water behind Hope Mills Dam rising

September 17, 2018

Water pours over the Hope Mills Dam spillway on Sept. 16, 2018.

Hope Mills Dam in Cumberland County is functional but seeing a level of water that is causing problems downstream.

On Monday, parts of Legion Road were under the rushing water of Rockfish Creek.

“It’s pretty catastrophic right now. It’s pretty messed up right now,” said William Monroe, who lives a few feet from the rising water.

The road is now completely impassible to drivers, even emergency vehicles.

“I’m just glad everybody is all right and it didn’t come up in the church parking lot like it did last time,” Monroe said, referring to two years ago when Hurricane Matthew hit the area and caused devastating flooding.

“I think that this time around they got the water management situation better than the last time,” lifetime Hope Mills resident Ernie Wooten said.

Wooten said he isn’t too worried about the water, just what will be left when it goes away.

“All the damage then really shows itself, and you don’t really know what all is under the water right now, and there’s houses downstream that are usually impacted by this kind of thing,” Wooten said. “There’s stuff from upstream that hasn’t got here yet. I’m not an expert on that sort of thing, but just from experience it’s usually a day or two later that it comes downstream.”

The original dam was breached in 2003 by a major storm. The dam was rebuilt in 2008, but it failed two years later.

Hope Mills Lake was drained in 2010 after a sinkhole beneath the dam allowed water to flow uncontrollably. Hope Mills received final approval from state regulators in January of this year to impound water in Hope Mills Lake.

The town won a $9.4 million settlement against the company that built it, and the money has paid for a new dam.

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