UNC Staff Recognized For Flood Response Efforts

CHAPEL HILL – More than two dozen UNC employees received a standing ovation at a Board of Trustees meeting Wednesday for their response to this summer’s flash flooding which swept through campus.

Alston Gardner, Vice Chair of the Board, praised members of the grounds crew, campus maintenance, building services and housing support for their efforts.

“We really want to thank you, each and every one of you, for making that sacrifice,” Gardner said. “I know sometimes we can’t convince the Legislature to give you guys a raise, but one thing we can do is say thank you for everything you’ve done for us.”

The June 30th flood dumped more than 5 inches of rain in just a few hours, endangering close to 90 buildings across campus.

Only about 14 grounds crew members were on campus due to the upcoming July 4th holiday. Mark Bristol, Director of Building Services, said that they were also were understaffed because it was a Sunday.

“And it just came, and went and these guys were just so spectacular in being able to pick up the phone and say, “I’ll be there.” And it made the clean-up effort go a whole lot smoother than it would have,” Bristol said.

UNC staff member Charles Streeter shared the story of how severe the flooding was at the chemistry facilities, which include a cluster of buildings: Morehead, Kenan and Caudill laboratories; Venable and Murray halls; and parts of Chapman Hall and the Genomic Sciences building.

One of the workers who responded to the flooding there said he saw the rising waters destroy computers, books and carpeting. He even saw a door ripped from its hinges as a result of the fast moving water, as reported in a university publication.

Bristol said the employees stayed well into the early morning hours of July 1st to clean up after the damage was done.

“It was just a great overall team effort,” he said. “These guys were willing to take time away from their homes and get in here and give us a hand because we had our hands full.”

Bristol said the clean-up work continued over the next month and a half to make sure that campus buildings were ready and safe for students to return.


Seminar Aims To Help Businesses In Flood Recovery Efforts

CHAPEL HILL – Though the waters of the June 30 flash flood have long since receded, many area businesses are still recovering.  A free workshop is being held this week to make this process less complicated and to better prepare our community for future emergencies.

The Disaster Preparedness Seminar is happening Thursday morning at the Carolina Club, a hosting partner, along with the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce and the local chapter of SCORE, a national non-profit organization which aids small businesses.

Andrew Beamon is a project manager for SCORE and helped lead Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts after the super storm tore through the East Coast.

“We definitely want to provide these experts to the community and to provide educational assistance to get people better prepared for these types of interruptions,” Beamon said.

Beamon explained Thursday’s workshop will be given by Bob Boyd, CEO of Agility Recovery, based in Charlotte, NC.

Agility Recovery works to prepare clients for many types of disasters before they happen.  They also provide immediate assistance to clients when a disaster actually occurs.

“What SCORE and Agility have done for other communities across the North East has centered around 10 steps in preparedness,” Beamon said. “That is as simple as accessing risk in your community, or reviewing your insurance plan and making sure that everything is up-to-date.”

The June rainstorm dumped more than five inches of rain in just a few hours, affecting shopping centers like University Mall and The Shops at Eastgate.

“We have been close to a lot of businesses that have been affected by Hurricane Sandy, and we want to pass this knowledge on to Chapel Hill and Carrboro as well,” Beamon said.

SCORE mentors will also offer individualized counseling on topics, including how to find appropriate financing options and how to create successful marketing initiatives once businesses get back on their feet.

“For recovery, we were able to get people connected with the right resources to get loans and grants to get their business back up and running,” Beamon said. “This is all free, the workshops we provide and the one-on-one counseling is all free.”

Registration is required to attend the Disaster Preparedness Seminar. To sign up, click here.


Carrboro Flood Victims Ask Town For Help

Pictured: June 30 flooding near The Flats on Todd Street in Carrboro

CARRBORO- The waters have receded following this summer’s massive flooding on June 30, but some Carrboro residents have said the problem will persist unless the Town makes some major changes to its infrastructure.

Carrboro Alderman member Jacquelyn Gist spoke at Tuesday’s board meeting about the flooding problems that continue to impact neighbors along Old Pittsboro Road.

“The type of rain event that we are getting is really changing.  It is more intense. It is more often. I don’t know why it is happening, but I think I know why it is happening. I think we need to have a very serious conversation in the near future,” Gist said.

Over on South Greensboro Street, Carrboro officials condemned about two dozen homes at the Rocky Brook Mobile Home Park as a result of the June 30 rainstorm that dumped more than five inches in just a few hours.

“I don’t think that our infrastructure can handle this change. It was built towards a different type of rain event,” Gist said.

Several residents who live along Old Pittsboro Road,  like Kelly Dimock, asked the Board to consider ways to mediate the problem.

“We’re talking about a massive amount of water,” Dimock said. “It would be physically impossible to leave our driveway certainly by foot but even by car when this happens.  I just wanted to make sure that was clear, that it happens frequently, and that it is extreme. It is not just that water in the ditch.”

Neighbor Logan Kendall said the ditch Dimock referenced runs along Old Pittsboro Street. He said he feared the ditch also carried contaminants as a result of run-off from nearby businesses.

“This ditch ultimately deposits into a Morgan Creek tributary,” Kendall said. “The topography of the land is such that it is really a stream valley that unloads all of the stream water in from Carrboro just about, at least from the Central Business District from the south. Ultimately it goes through a huge culvert into the Rocky Brook Trailer Park.”

Town staff explained that maintenance for a majority of the ditch falls on the Town because it is in the public right of way. However, some of the ditch runs along private property.

Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton explained that if the Town tried diverting water from one area, it would lead to flooding in another area.

“Even if we had a brilliant plan for moving it [the water] faster off Old Pittsboro Road, what you are talking about is getting it down to Rocky Brook trailer park faster and even more dramatically,” Chilton said.

Chilton ultimately turned to the Town Staff, asking them to investigate the current infrastructure problems, then consult with OWASA, and return with a report to be presented at the September 17 Board meeting.