Burgaw, NC – The river crested near Burgaw at 16-1/2 feet, exceeding forecasters' predictions. The river isn't expected to recede below flood level until Saturday.
Overflow from the Northeast Cape Fear has closed a section of Highway 53 near I-40, flooding surrounding homes and driving out most residents. On duty at the edge of the water, North Carolina Wildlife Commission Sergeant David Jordan said his big concern on this holiday is recreational boaters.
"The Coast Guards' closed the river from Highway 117 to the Duplin county line and we're basically out here keeping boat traffic off the river because of... the wake from boats damaging people's property."
Surrounding Sergeant Jordan at the edge of the water were television crews and small knots of local residents, discussing the fates of their homes.
Tasha Cowen and her husband paused their a holiday motorcycle ride to join the crowd. Cowen said her in-laws are still in their house, farther down the road. The couple is trying to ride out the flooding in their house, but Cowen and her husband have been in phone contact since the waters started rising.
"They just keep watching the water level ride each day and they said they'll call us when it starts going in the house, or when their vehicles start floating away."
Officials in Pender and Duplin Counties say they've already rescued some 140 people from floodwaters caused by Tropical Storm Ernesto.