Monday numbers: Potential Florence impacts in western NC

Monday numbers: Potential Florence impacts in western NC

- in Environment, Top Story

Having devastated the southeast coast of North Carolina, Hurricane Florence is now a tropical depression, making a beeline toward the mountains. Rain and wind could uproot trees and unleash land- and mudslides on steep terrain, including places where they occurred earlier this year.

As part of the Hurricane Recovery Act of 2005 the legislature directed the Department of Environmental Quality to provide landslide hazard maps for mountain counties, with money coming from a Disaster Relief Fund. But in 2011, lawmakers cut off funding to the NC Geological Survey, which was in charge of mapping the hazard zones, and the project stopped. Scientists completed their work in just four counties before the money ran out: Henderson, Buncombe, Watauga and Macon.

After mudslides killed three people in May, the legislature included $3.6 million to restart the program.

19 – number of North Carolina mountain counties for which the state commenced generating landslide maps in 2005

4 – number completed before lawmakers cut off funding

20 – percentage of Henderson County at moderate to high risk of landslides

29 –  percentage of Buncombe County

51 –  percentage of Macon County

44 – percentage of Watauga County

56 – estimated number of landslides in Transylvania County in the flood of July 1916

7 – number of miles that debris flowed after the Lake Toxaway dam failed in August 1916

50 mph – velocity of the debris flow

74 – that velocity measured in feet per second

900 tons – weight of 60-foot boulder transported by flood waters from the dam failure

27 – estimated inches of rain that fell in the mountains during Hurricane Ivan in 2014

85 – number of landslides reported

100,000 – gallons of petroleum products that spilled into the French Broad River system

5 – number of people killed in a mudslide triggered by Hurricane Ivan

78 – number of homes destroyed

11,107 – number damaged

Sources: NC DEQ, County hazard maps, Charlotte Observer, N.C. General Assembly (here and here).