Flooding in North Carolina

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Flooding is a common danger across the United States, with certain areas being more prone than others.

At All Dry USA, we’re covering the likelihood of a flood in beautiful North Carolina, the types of flooding you could expect, predominant dangers, and – most importantly – how to keep you and your family safe.

Whether you’re here to learn about flood management or prevention, we’ve got you covered.

North Carolina River

How Common Are Floods in North Carolina?

As flooding events occur more repeatedly around the United States, this danger threatens the Tar Heel State. But the most common form of flooding in North Carolina is nuisance flooding. What’s that?

By definition, nuisance flooding doesn’t cause significant property damage or severely threaten your safety – but it is a nuisance. While we see immense infrastructure strain – on sewers, transportation lines, and water systems, for example – the cumulative damage costs could be comparable to newsworthy extreme events. Perhaps not as loud, but certainly as damaging.

With the many types of flooding that can occur, it’s not just the above that affects North Carolina. Let’s explore.

What Types of Flooding Affect North Carolina?

  • Flash Flooding

Flash flooding defines an extreme, fast flow of high water into typically water-free areas. Streams or creeks overflow beyond the designated flood line due to events like intense rainfall or dam failures. If a flood occurs within 6 hours of the causative event, it’s deemed a flash flood.

  • River Flooding

River flooding affects North Carolina as river levels rise, causing a river to burst its bank and spill into usually dry areas. This typically relates to heavy rainfall, rapid snowmelt, ice jams, and dam issues. Three classifications – minor, moderate, and major – define the water height and its impact.

  • Tropical Systems and Coastal Flooding

Tropical cyclones and hurricanes can happen any time of year, but they’re the most potent in North Carolina from June to November. Hurricanes produce immense waves, posing a threat to coastal life and property. The aftermath of storm surges or extreme waves can be quite destructive.

  • Dam Breaks/ Levee Failure

Thousands of dams in the United States threaten life and property if a failure occurs – whether by natural disaster or human causes. When water exceeds the top of the dam, it seeps excessively into the ground. Water may also release due to a structural fault.

  • Snowmelt

Snowmelt flooding can take a while to occur after a heavy snowfall, as the snow must melt before traveling in liquid form. If there’s too much water for soil to absorb – or more water than can be contained by rivers, lakes, or reservoirs – you’ve got yourself a snowmelt problem.

  • Debris Jams

As debris is carried downstream by our waterways, it may get caught or trapped by an obstruction in the water flow. If water is held back, it’s possible for flooding to occur upstream. Eventually, the water pressure builds, leading to potentially devastating flash flooding.

What Areas in North Carolina Are Prone To Flooding?

North Carolina has seventeen main river basins, five of which drain to the Gulf Of Mexico, while the others flow to the Atlantic Ocean. As a refresher, a river basin carries water across or under as it travels to rivers; it’s similar to how a valley contains water at the bottom of sloping land.

There’s a lot of water in North Carolina, and you could argue that living close to any major waterways will put you in contact with an increased amount of flooding. You could use flood maps to determine your specific flood risk. However, even maps offered through official government websites can be inaccurate, as flood prevention methods are constantly updated locally.

What Are the Main Hazards Associated With Flooding?

Polluted Floodwater

Floods can infiltrate sewage systems and direct harmful bacteria over the ground – even finding a way into your home. Even after the initial crisis appears to be over, receding floodwater can create still pools, which provide an ideal breeding ground for mosquitos and disease.

If you’re the victim of flooding in your home or property, water damage is likely to be only one reason for having to remove furniture at ground level. Water damage may bring contamination to your items and property.

Property Damage

Damage to your property will likely occur inside and out, inherently affecting property value.

You could be dealing with electrical damage, halted access to water in your home, structural damage to walls and foundations, and a nasty mold problem in the aftermath.

Mold On Gray Ceiling

Disruption of Services

You will likely experience disruption of services due to road closures, limited access, business closure or loss, and good transportation slowness. Both your daily life and emergency services will battle with said disruptions.

If water levels are too high for vehicles to pass safely, emergency services rely on coastal divisions to support them and the community. Such cases often happen in more extreme events, but understandably the strain of disruption is felt across the board in such circumstances.

How Do I Keep My Family Safe During a Flood in North Carolina?

Before the Flood

  • Build and maintain an emergency supply kit that can provide warmth and food to you and your family for at least 72 hours. Keep this kit in an easily accessible location at all times. It may include flashlights, extra batteries, canned food, bottled water, cash, medication, blankets, and dry clothing.
  • Make sure your important documents and legal certification – like passports and insurance policy documents – are in a safety deposit box. Ensure the box is fire and waterproof on an upper level in your home.
  • Create an evacuation plan for your family. If you own any pets, plan for their safety.
  • Keep your water heaters, electrical panels, and furnaces elevated.
  • Seal your walls to avoid seepage.

During The Flood

  • Move to high ground.
  • Move essential items in your home upstairs.
  • Turn off electricals.
  • Do not touch electricals if already wet.
  • Do not try and drive through high water levels.

After a Flood

  • Ensure electricity isn’t live in your home before re-entering.
  • Hire a professional to inspect electricals.
  • Avoid tap water unless instructed it’s safe to drink.
  • Maintain distance from downed power lines.
  • Only return home after authorities have indicated it’s safe.
  • Service damaged septic tanks.
  • Clean and disinfect everything that was in contact with flood water.

Common Types of Property Damage Caused by Floods in North Carolina


Mold accumulates in warm, moist conditions and can cause respiratory and health hazards. After a flood, the air fills with moisture – a perfect breeding ground for thriving mold. The key spots to watch out for are in your bathrooms, carpets, and furniture containing fabric or wood.

Once an outbreak occurs, you’ll likely find more spots of mold around your home. This is why it is imperative to clean and disinfect any surface that has come into contact with flood water. We’re experts in this process!

Interior Water Damage

Water and electricity do not mix. You could be dealing with limited access to electricity after a flood. After the initial crisis has subsided, even water that evaporates from the moisture hidden in your walls could interfere with electrical circuits and wiring.

Water is also known to damage the foundation of residences. Whether it’s through water pressure or direct damage, waterlogged materials can buckle over time. For instance, your kitchen floor may feel fine underfoot at first, but if water is trapped underneath, you may notice a spongey sensation as the water continues to do damage.

Hidden Water

Without help from a professional, you may think it’s safe to continue daily life after all the visible water has retreated and you’ve cleaned your home.

Hidden pools of water often hide underneath flooring and behind walls, leaving materials waterlogged for longer than you’d think. This affects the integrity of your property structure and is likely to leave worse damage the longer it’s untreated.

Water System Contamination

As we know, sewage waste can infiltrate your home through flood water and make its way into freshwater systems. This may result in limited access to clean drinking water in your home after a flood.

Having your water tested is essential before allowing your family to drink the water from your faucets.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is North Carolina in Danger From Flooding?

North Carolina is becoming more at risk of coastal flooding particularly. The area currently has 122,000 people in jeopardy of experiencing more significant flooding events like coastal flooding. By 2050, it’s expected that the number will grow by a further 44,000 people as sea levels rise.

Suffering From Flooding Damage in North Carolina? ADU Can Help

At All Dry USA, we specialize in interior damage restoration and repair services, from mold remediation to water damage restoration on demand. After a flood, the aftermath can feel overwhelming. Allow us to help you get your house back to feeling like a home.


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