BELHAVEN, N.C. (WNCN) — The town of Belhaven was one of the areas near the North Carolina coast hit by Tropical Storm Ophelia Saturday morning.
But, the real flooding and trouble did not appear to start until after the rain ended and storm surge from high winds pushed the waters from the Pungo River to hit Belhaven.
During the flooding, a dog tied up in the rising water grabbed the town’s attention — and a rescue by the Belhaven police chief.
Along with Belhaven, Washington and New Bern were also towns flooded by Ophelia.
The flooding in Belhaven — north of Emerald Isle where Ophelia made landfall — took many by surprise Saturday morning.
“We thought we had dodged a bullet,” wrote Wayne Penn, who has lived in the Beaufort County town for 10 years. “Well, the rain from Ophelia didn’t bother us much but the storm surge from the winds following the storm pushed the river into town. We had to scramble to get our vehicles to higher ground and right now we are completely surrounded by water.”
Penn took video of the Pungo River with whitecaps — and then kept documenting the rising waters as they stunned residents.
“It looks like the Atlantic Ocean, normally it’s very calm,” Penn said of the river.
Meanwhile, Saturday morning — as the waters were rising — some residents noticed a dog tied up outside at East Bay Street and Union Street.
Photos from Terri Pagliaro on Facebook showed the dog stranded and facing possible drowning.
“Dog tied up in flood water. Already up to the dog’s belly. He’s scared and needs rescuing,” Pagliaro wrote on Facebook. “I’m so angry right now — called police but no idea how long it will take to get him.”
The dog later climbed on top of a doghouse in an effort to avoid the floodwaters.
Less than an hour later, Belhaven Police Chief Christopher Kelly arrived at the scene in a fire truck that could cut through the floodwaters.
However, the truck driver and Kelly were extra cautious because the road is narrow with deep canals in that area on both sides that can not be seen in the flood waters.
Kelly walked out in the water, rescued the dog and took a photo of it in the cab of the truck.
“Thank you, Chief Kelly and Chad O’Neal who drove the fire truck!” Pagliaro wrote.
Belhaven officials also later posted a photo of Kelly and O’Neal along with the rescued dog.
“The Town of Belhaven has some great first responders. But, they should never be put in the position to take care of someone else’s negligence,” town officials wrote.