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Storm surge, winds cause minor flooding, close marina

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Caution tape surrounds the parking lot entrance, as well as the front entrance to the Pelican marina, Monday afternoon, Sept. 17, 2018.

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By William F. West
Staff Writer

Monday, September 17, 2018

Wind-driven storm surge in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence swelled area rivers and creeks over their banks, creating minor flooding along some area roads and neighborhoods but also forced the owners of the Pelican Marina to close the business.

Melissa Jensen, who co-owns the Pelican with her husband, Niels, said Monday the Pasquotank riverside business has been closed since early Saturday afternoon and said the power is shut off for safety reasons.

"Right now, there's about six inches of water in the store, mostly across the floor, not all the way across the floor," she said over the phone. "So, we can't conduct business right now because the store is flooded."

Additionally, Jensen said there's damage to the store's front entrance, where a bulkhead is located.

"So, we're having to go in and out of the back door. And we won't really be able to assess all the damage until the water recedes," she said.

She said the Pelican didn't sustain any wind damage as a result of Florence and was open for business for a short time on Saturday. However, she said once the storm surge began, the water came in with it.

According to Jensen, boaters docked at the Pelican had started evacuating their vessels on Wednesday. She said some of the boaters anchored out in the water for the storm and said some of the boaters returned to the Pelican's docks.

Also, she said, some of the boaters headed toward the Dismal Swamp Canal, where they docked behind the waterway’s locks. Those vessels won't be able to leave until today, she said, as the locks have been closed to boat traffic.

As for when the Pelican is going to reopen, Jensen was unsure. She if the damage is only along the walls, they can resume operations. She said there was no major damage to the docks.

On land, Florence's effects locally have included reports of floodwater on several roads and streets.

Emergency Management Coordinator Christy Saunders said Monday that in Camden County, Sawyers Creek Road is closed to traffic between Lamb's and Sleepy Hollow roads. Also, Saunders said there has been flooding of roads in the Whitehall Shores residential area of Camden.

Overall, Saunders said the list of roads and streets reportedly covered with water in Pasquotank and Camden counties are the same as in past years in the aftermath of storms because of them being in low-lying areas.

Saunders said one exception is reports of standing water at the entrance to the Glen Cove residential area at the far southeastern end of Pasquotank County. Saunders said Glen Cove is not normally a flood-prone area.

The one positive, she indicated, has been the Bunker Hill and Old Swamp roads area southeast of South Mills in Camden County. That area was particularly hard-hit in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew in 2016 due to the proximity to a flood-prone creek. Saunders said her team has been checking for information from there and said, "I'm not getting any reports of any problems in that area."

She said the problem as a result of Florence has been an increase in the southeast winds. She said conditions should begin to improve today as the winds shift to a more southwesterly direction and then eventually make a westerly turn.

Asked about when she believes all roads and streets in the Pasquotank-Camden area are going to be dry again, she said, "I think we may be into late Wednesday, even into Thursday maybe, before we start to see it all cleared out."

Saunders said no bridges or roads have been washed out in the Pasquotank-Camden area.

As of Monday, the list from Saunders of roads and streets reportedly covered with water in Elizabeth City and in Pasquotank were as follows:

Southern Avenue;

Southern in the area of Dawson Street;

Riverside Avenue in the area of Flora Street;

Fairfax Avenue in the area of Rivershore Road;

Rivershore in the area of Parkview Drive;

Nixonton Road in the area of Pointe Vista Drive;

Meadstown Road in the area of Nixonton;

Weeksville Road in the area of Sawmill Road;

Esclip Road in the area of Dry Ridge Road;

Salem Church Road.

In Camden County, Saunders' list includes Ridge, River and Valley roads in the Whitehall Shores area, as well as South Mill Dam Road and Sailboat Road in the lower part of Camden.

In Perquimans County, Emergency Services Director Jonathan Nixon said although water remains standing in many areas of his county, he said he and his team aren't aware of any impassable roads.

In Chowan County, Commission Clerk Suzanne Stallings said her county hasn't received any reports of road closures from the N.C. Department of Transportation.

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