Falls Lake dam release means flooding for Raleigh neighborhood


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened up Falls Lake dam a little more Friday – frustrating some residents downstream.

Water is flowing from the dam at about 45,000 gallons per second – 7,000 gallons per second more than Thursday.

Engineers upped the flow at noon Friday.

With his dock already under five feet of water, Ed Smallwood spent the past week pleading with the Corps not to increase its output.

“I’ve done everything I know to do, short of taking hostages,” Smallwood said.

He called generals. He called Congress. All in hopes of holding the dam to the 30,000 gallons per second it’s released over the past few days.

Or even the 37,000 per second on Thursday.

“We want them to release the water, we know they have to release the water, And there’s a lot of it up there,” Smallwood.

But the Riverbend Community Association head said the area just can’t handle any more.

“I’ll expect water to come up to about where he’s working right there,” Bobby Harrison said.

Some driveways and streets are already covered, and last week’s flood filled three cars.

Neighbors are taking precautions.

“I’ll move my car way up the hill, then we can walk back through the high ground to the cars,” Harrison said.

Based on past experiences including a similar dam release in January 2016, they expect the Neuse River and their small local lake to rise three feet by midnight.

“There’s a dam right there. Normally water flows out of the lake, over the dam, drops some five feet or so, and goes on out into the river,” Smallwood said.

But now it’s the river flowing into this lake, and across roads and private properties.

The Army Corps of Engineers said the Falls Lake level on Thursday could only take about three more inches before it hit a flood point and they got more than an inch overnight.

The Corps plans to keep the water flowing at 45,000 gallons per second for about a week before cutting back to 30,000 for another week.

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