Don’t blame Nicole. The widespread flooding and record-breaking rainfall at the end of September wasn’t entirely the tropical storm’s fault.

When remnants of Tropical Storm Nicole reached North Carolina on Sept. 30, rain had been steadily soaking many parts of the state for four days.

The National Weather Service forecast offices in North Carolina report that a series of unrelated weather events at the time — Nicole, rotating upper-level disturbances and a stationary front that pulled in moisture from a tropical plume — combined to deliver more than two feet of rain to some eastern counties.

The tropical storm merely added a small amount to what had already fallen, forecasters note.

The week of rain caused widespread flooding that closed local roads and schools. Water stayed around for days in parts of North Carolina as rivers and streams continued to peak after the rain had stopped.

Immediately after the storm, many areas in Bertie County were completely surrounded by water and Windsor stayed underwater for several days. Also hard hit were Beaufort, Craven, Duplin, Hertford, Jones, Onslow, Pender and Tyrell counties. Some of these counties issued evacuation orders and opened shelters for people with flooded homes.

Several vehicle accident deaths were attributed to the rain and its aftereffects. Rescue teams conducted more than 200 water rescues.

President Barack Obama declared a major disaster in North Carolina. The state would receive federal funding to supplement state aid, allowing residents of these counties to receive assistance for housing and personal property losses.

Gov. Bev Perdue initially received a federal aid declaration for Individual Assistance for Beaufort, Bertie, Craven, Hertford, Onslow and Tyrrell counties. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA ) later extended the federal disaster declaration to include Brunswick, Jones, Pender and Pitt counties. And on Nov. 1, FEMA agreed with the state to include Camden, Martin, New Hanover and Washington counties, raising the total to 14.

The N.C. Department of Crime Control and Public Safety reported that as of Nov. 1, residents in eastern North Carolina had received more than $2.8 million in federal funds to help them recover from the flooding. More than 3,000 people had registered for state and federal assistance and nearly 3,000 had visited disaster recovery centers.

Already, more than 2,370 homes have been inspected by FEMA for damages.

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This article was published in the Holiday 2010 issue of Coastwatch.

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