Chapel Hill wants neighbors in flood zone to move - WNCN: News, Weather

Chapel Hill wants neighbors in flood zone to move

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -

Neighbors in a flood-prone area of Chapel Hill are upset because they say city officials are trying to get them to move out.

Back in June, historic flooding forced some residents in the Camelot Village condos out of their homes.  Last week, the town of Chapel Hill actually tried to buy out those condos, but not enough owners signed onto the deal.

Rick Dodson's unit is one of those that saw flood damage.  A couple of inches of water meant he had to get new carpeting, new baseboards and even some new drywall.  His neighbors got hit much worse.

"And they lost, literally, everything they owned.  It was horrible, horrible, horrible," Dodson said.

Dodson has lived in the complex for 23 years.  While Camelot Village has flooded before, the June flooding was the first time Dodson's unit saw water damage.  So, he wants to know why the town of Chapel Hill wants him out.

"I feel like they're, so to speak, picking on Camelot Village because we're the only people they've named that they want to buy out and I said, 'What about all these other places that flood?'"

Nearby neighborhoods and parking lots have flooded in the past as well, including the parking lot of the University Mall located just across Estes Drive.  But the city's Deputy Fire Chief says their flooding is never as bad as it is at Camelot Village.

"We actually had people who got trapped," Deputy Fire Chief Robert Bosworth said.  "People calling up saying they had water up to their waist, some, up to their chest."

Bosworth says that ties up first responders and puts them at risk for a flooding event, history has shown, will probably happen again.

"The next time we get a hurricane through or a big rainstorm, it's very possible that the area will flood and we'll be right back doing the same thing again," Bosworth said.

However, living alone on disability and on a fixed income, Dodson says he simply does not have many other living options.

"I've lived here since about 1990 and that would make it about 23 years," he said.  "It is the only home I have.  All my relatives have died.  I don't have any family left.  All I have is a handful of good friends, so when people talk about going home, this is home to me."

Bosworth stresses no one is being forced to move out.  He says the city is just giving people options to think about before another flood takes place.

Bosworth also says new flood mapping, that happens once every ten years, is currently underway.  He believes once those maps are updated, showing which parts of Chapel Hill are most prone to flooding, insurance companies could raise premiums for people living in Camelot Village.

Derick Waller

Derick is a reporter for WNCN covering crime, education, politics and just about everything in between. He has a knack for adapting to any story and consistently delivers information quickly across multiple platforms. More>>

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