Nags Head details plans to combat chronic flooding

By on August 1, 2018

Sunday’s rain was on top of a deluge the previous week. (Rob Morris)

After 5 inches of rain Sunday on top of the previous week’s deluge, Nags Head officials sought to assure visitors and property owners this morning that the town is moving as quickly as possible to attack flooding of streets and private property.

Drainage ditches overflowed and some streets were closed after the storms, but so far no serious damage has been reported.

In a statement released at today’s Board of Commissioners meeting, the town described how it responded to the flooding and what it was doing to improve the stormwater drainage system.

But some residents and business owners are concerned that not enough is being done. Barbara Ayars, who lives at the corner of Memorial Avenue and Driftwood Street, told the board that properties were inches away from being flooded.

She suggested that the town create a written plan for responding to known trouble spots such as Gallery Row, where she lives.

“Our roads were two feet deep in water, and we still had people joy riding through the neighborhood, taking pictures, creating wakes, increasing flood area,” she said. “There’s no excuse for that.”

When officers on the street saw that roads were flooding, they contacted Police Chief Kevin Brinkley, who called in reinforcements, according to the statement. Three officers, including the chief, were joined by four more.

Problems included a lightning strike that took out the traffic signal at Danube Street and U.S. 158. Barricades and no-wake signs were put up on side streets and one lane of U.S. 158 near Staples was closed.

“In Nags Head, most of the water drained away quickly, due in part to improved maintenance of the drainage system,” the statement said. “Some low-lying streets and yards with no or poor drainage continued to hold water about 48 hours later. One problematic neighborhood system was boosted using a portable pump.”

In addition to maintenance of the existing drainage system, the town is set to begin three impovement projects this winter after studies by an engineering consultant and a citizen committee.

But future plans still depend on a deliberate examination of where they will do the most good and the ability of the town to pay for them, the statement said.

The plans are:

  • Lowering and replacing the pipe with a larger one that runs under N.C. 12 and connects to the Red Drum area ocean outfall. The town said it would increase storage of drainwater in the area and help Nags Head Pond, Nags Head Acres, the eastern part of Vista Colony and blocks 2300 to 2700 between the highways.
  • Lowering the groundwater level with pumping in the southeast corner of Nags Head Acres and the northeast corner of Vista Colony.
  • Adding pipes in the 5000 to 5300 block of Virginia Dare Trail (N.C. 12).

Ten more projects are being examined for subsequent work at a rate of three to four a year, the statement said.





  • Barbara

    The Town of Nags Head has been studying the issue of stormwater for years and promised coordinated responses each time the public raises enough of an outcry. Meanwhile some measures are done such as cleaning ditches and installing swales which help but do not correct the flooding. And of course development continues based on the inadequate approach to stormwater runoff that has prevailed for years. Unless and until the Town stops paving the island- stops cutting down mature trees- stops adding fill- and creates significant more storage in upstream areas, the neighborhoods will flood. I for one do not think yet another promise of a response that does not include real world improvements is an answer.

    Wednesday, Aug 1 @ 2:15 pm
  • Please

    South Nags Head could use a little assistance. The roads, sidewalks, and private yards have been flooded for weeks now. I know it takes time, but we could use some help here.

    Wednesday, Aug 1 @ 4:08 pm
  • Megan

    Yes we had flooding on Sunday but it could have been much worse . Yes it could have been better …but it was better than the last flooding event and improvements such as swales etc contributed to that. You can’t deny that . Also we Over this past summer where we have had a remarkable amount of rain I have noticed the town has been draining much better than it did last summer and rain totals have been off the charts this summer….It will take a continued effort from the town and commissioners approving money in the budget to do so … what has happened since Matthew has been just that . For that I am thankful and hopeful that the trend will continue . It is impossible for the solutions to happen overnight , reguardless of how much we may need those solutions. Had the improvements not been done this past year Sunday would have been a different outcome entirely. We flooded terribly after Matthew and the water took so much longer to drain . We also did not see road blocks up after Matthew . This storm
    The water drained faster , pumps were brought in and roadblocks went up immediately, yes some people still drove through . We saw reinforcements from police when that happened …. I am THANKFUL for
    Those improvements. I again am also encouraged after seeing this improvements that we are heading in the right direction I’m dealing with a huge and complex problem .

    Wednesday, Aug 1 @ 4:30 pm
  • Robert

    Several years ago the town designated a large track of land between US 158 and Wrightsville Av across from Stan White Realty as storm water retention area. A couple years later the town approved a plan too clear cut and build the Food Lion store and shopping center plus acres of parking lot. Why believe the town now?

    Wednesday, Aug 1 @ 5:03 pm
  • voidLess1

    If you live in Nags Head, STORMWATER DRAINAGE IS UNACCEPTABLE. It is unacceptable because our gravity septic systems will not function properly in saturated ground. This has been studied to death, Be the model for other towns, spend the money and fix it. Its less than beach nourishment!

    Wednesday, Aug 1 @ 7:42 pm
  • Bob Oakes

    Actually, Robert, the Town hired an outside planning group, I think it was grad students, and they came back with some interesting ideas, but no real world concept of costs. Yes, they had stormwater ponds all over the current Food Lion, but it was $5,000,000 or so out of $10’s of millions their plan proposed to spend. Unrealistic portions of the Town’s budget. Remember all the acres the Town has participated in preserving: Nags Head Woods, Jockey’s Ridge, the Whalebone curve, and Dowdys are good examples.

    Wednesday, Aug 1 @ 8:51 pm
  • John

    Kitty Hawk installed a drain water system last summer…on day one when the south area of Lindberg was underwater….no pumps were running. When owners contacted the town they were advised they had to get permission from the state to pump the water….once they got permission they had to get pumps from VA!!! Why don’t we have our own pumps. With those 2 delays the water was already 2 ft deep under the houses. Once the water was clear the road to allow vehicle traffic the pumps were stopped. It did nothing to clear the water out of the homes and yards. It has now been 2 weeks and water is still standing and the smell is horrible. Now much of a drain system if that is all it does!!! I think Kitty Hawk needs to revisit this system.

    Thursday, Aug 2 @ 7:21 am
  • Obx mermaid

    Town of Nags Head promised us that if we did beach replenishments that FEMA would pay for loss of that sand! That didn’t happen either! Lies and more lies!

    Thursday, Aug 2 @ 7:35 am
  • Manteo Guy

    @John – It is not any Town’s responsibility to pump your private property. The only thing they need to ensure is that first responders are able to respond. If you build or buy a house in a hole, it’s going to fill with water. If people do not do their due diligence when dealing with real estate, that’s a you problem.

    Thursday, Aug 2 @ 8:50 am
  • Barbara

    I do not deny that some improvements have been made in terms of swales and cleaning ditches goes. However, the existing system, even in top form, is inadequate to manage the volume of water here when a significant rain event takes place. Even the Town agrees with that. One way to begin to address that is through the creation of storage upstream of the worst flood areas- and just because the Food Lion property project was expensive does not constitute an excuse for not creating retention/detention now. It also does not mean that controls on where and how things are built can not be put in place using realistic rainfall levels rather than those currently applied through the ordinances. Its past time for the Town to make stormwater control a top priority and to actually take measures that will more effectively limit flooding in the neighborhoods.

    Thursday, Aug 2 @ 10:53 am
  • Patty Iona Oswald

    OBX Mermaid – Actually, FEMA has agreed to reimburse the Town for sand lost from Matthew and the work will start next summer.

    Thursday, Aug 2 @ 12:51 pm
  • Bud

    The outer banks is fast becoming the armpit of Carolina..

    Thursday, Aug 2 @ 1:02 pm
  • Otis

    Wow, it sounds like most think that no matter how large the storm event is, the Town should somehow plan for such an occurrences. How much land area do think it would take to hold (retain) 10 to 15 inches of rainfall with a seasonal high water table only about 3 feet from the ground surface? Like a lot!! So taxes shouldn’t be increased to buy exorbitant amounts of land necessary to hold/store this runoff because we can’t live with occasional or periodic flooding. If these events were ‘Normal’ like just a few inches over 24 hours and properties were flooding like they are now then many of the complaints would be valid, but that isn’t what happened. I think we should pray for no hurricanes right now!

    Thursday, Aug 2 @ 7:09 pm
  • Ruthless

    Dang right we should be concerned about hurricane season after the recent rain events. By the way, don’t the towns and/or the county have some kind of regulations about retaining/managing storm water on the property being developed? We are f****** doomed due to f****** greed.

    Thursday, Aug 2 @ 10:26 pm
  • Felice Harris

    Megan we r happy for you as far as last Sunday’s rain
    However u should have taken a look around your area including west of S Memorial Ave.

    Friday, Aug 3 @ 9:08 am
  • Local

    Manteo guy…. some of us were the “first” here. The town allowed new development to bring in fill and drown out those of us who already had homes. No stormwater systems in place. Has nothing to do with lack of “due diligence”. Lack of proper long-term planning and GREED.

    Friday, Aug 3 @ 3:56 pm
  • Michelle

    Been coming to the Outer Banks for 38 years and have always stayed in Nags Head because there was stringent rules about overbuilding which left a nice town to visit. In the last few years where there used to be 1 house, there are now 8 -10 Gigantic homes built with no regard for the surrounding neighbors and worse puts a huge strain on the sewage infrastructure. Essentially you have allowed a hotel to be built by the time you add up all the bathrooms pools, dishwashers, jacuzzi’s. This is my second year in a row where we had bad rain and major flooding and sewage issues.
    It breaks my heart to see GREED and the ruthless Developer tear the heart out of a great town. Shameful on ALL fronts.
    All the people who live here and support this town when us tourists are gone are left with the clean up! I was here for 3 weeks and weathered the flash flood at Red Drum and then the NO Swimming due to high bacteria counts because of the run off.
    The only way this happens is when someones greases palms and pockets. I am sure those that made the money building this gigantic structures t took the money and ran and dont’ give a crap about the crap floating around. SAD on ALL fronts

    Saturday, Aug 4 @ 5:02 pm
  • Sean Mulligan

    Just drain all the septic into the ocean now thats a good idea.In Kitty Hawk they just pump it into the ocean and tell everyone to stay out of the water because of pollution.Thats what happens in Southern California because of Tiajuana not having proper sewage waste disposal. The only answer is putting the towns on a central sewage system which will cause even more over development and higher taxes.

    Sunday, Aug 5 @ 8:11 am

    1) These rain events will continue to occur.
    2) Continued development without adequate storm/wastewater management will result in worsening flooded roads/homes/businesses.
    3) Tourists will go elsewhere instead of spending their hard earned dollars to come to an area flooded in wastewater where they are told not to go in the ocean because of high bacteria levels.

    The town/county needs a comprehensive plan to deal with it or drown in wastewater trying to stick their heads in the sand.

    Monday, Aug 6 @ 8:45 am