Why residents of this Jordan Lake neighborhood now have to row the boat home

Residents of Jeremiah Drive park on side of the flooded road and use boats to get across to their neighborhood near Jordan Lake.
Residents of Jeremiah Drive park on side of the flooded road and use boats to get across to their neighborhood near Jordan Lake.

More rain in the weather forecast is the last thing residents of a neighborhood near Jordan Lake want to see.

But it is coming.

More rain means more water in Jordan Lake, which already is about 14 feet above normal.

During the last three months, the road leading to their homes has been under water 44 out of 101 days, said Faye Stanley, who lives on Jeremiah Drive. It floods any time the lake is above 225 feet, she said.

Jeremiah Drive is about a half mile from the lake, but it crosses a creek that empties into the lake. When the lake is high, so is the creek.

The lake was at 229.4 feet Thursday, meaning about four feet of water covered the road. The normal lake level is 216 feet.

The lake has been above 225 feet seven times in the last three years and three times in the last three months. The state is experiencing one of its rainiest years on record thanks to hurricanes Florence and Michael. At Raleigh-Durham International Airport, the record rainfall total of 59.14 inches set in 1996 may be exceeded with additional rain this weekend.

Jordan Lake, which is fed by the Haw River and managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, was built to control flooding downstream in the Cape Fear River basin.

Stanley said her neighborhood last experienced significant flooding in late 2015 and early 2016.

“It was under six feet of water for three weeks,” she said.

It was thought to be a once-a-decade event when they moved there four years ago, Chris Stanley said.

“We can deal with it happening intermittently,” he said. “But it is happening more and more.”

DOT Engineer Matthew Kitchen said the road was flooded 55 days during the 36 years before Florence.

Homes are not in danger of flooding but with road access cut off, it has changed the lives of the people on Jeremiah Drive.

“People are doing what they’ve got to do,” Chris Stanley said. “We’re not adapting, we’re surviving.”

There are 14 homes andabout 30 people who live on Jeremiah Road.

When the road floods, they use boats to make the 400-foot trip across the water.


It has curtailed the number of visitors they have, Chris Stanley said.

“Our grandkids couldn’t come to our house on Christmas because of the water,” he said. “We didn’t want to take that chance.”

Residents have reached out to county, state and federal officials.

In October they presented their concerns to the Chatham County Board of Commissioners.

State Sen. Valerie Foushee, who represents the area, also sent a letter to leaders at the N.C. Department of Transportation and the Corps of Engineers. In her letter, she described the hardships residents of Jeremiah Drive experience including lack of mail service and increased response times by emergency personnel.

One proposal is for the state to raise the road above the flood stage, according to Kitchen. Another is to build a back entrance into the neighborhood. Raising an 800-foot section of the road was estimated to cost about $300,000 about five years ago. Building the back entrance would require right-of-way acquisitions, another costly solution, Kitchen said.

“There is some hope to get something figured out,” she said. “They’ve talked to the folks at Jordan Lake but it is still going to be a long haul.”