Even though blue skies have returned to the state, many roads and bridges remain closed due to flooding and Hurricane Matthew-related damage. Gov. Pat McCrory and the N.C. Department of Transportation encourage citizens to be vigilant and take caution while out on the road because drivers can still face hazards that are not always obvious.
Record inland flooding continues to be a concern in the central and eastern parts of the state. Many rivers, streams and creeks are still rising. Communities near the Lumber, Cape Fear, Neuse and Tar rivers are not yet out of harm’s way. Very small changes in water level can have significant impact on whether a road is safe.
Before you venture onto our roadways, be sure to visit ReadyNC.org or call 5-1-1 for real-time road closure and traffic conditions. Drivers often encounter closed roads due to downed power lines, fallen trees and flooded or washed out roads.
More than 20 weather-related have fatalities have occurred in North Carolina in the wake of Hurricane Matthew. The vast majority are attributed to motorists driving in flooded or barricaded roadways.
If you encounter a flooded road, turn around, don’t drown! If you do not, you are risking your life as well as the lives of first responders that could be called upon to rescue you.
Transportation workers are currently assessing the damage to roads and bridges. Equipment and staff from all over the state are headed to the hardest-hit areas to assist with clearing debris and making repairs. Areas that are unsafe for travel will be blocked off.
Damage from Hurricane Matthew has been massive, and it will be several days before we know the full extent of the destruction it caused. A dry road surface can hide damage that was done while it was flooded. There is no need to add to the devastation by making a foolish and dangerous decision to attempt to drive through a flooded or barricaded road.
The governor and I urge everyone put safety at the top of their list. We are all partners in this effort. Let’s work together to stay safe and recover as quickly as possible.
Nick Tennyson is secretary of the N.C. Department of Transportation.