How does Meck County know when to shut down flooded roads?

CHARLOTTE — You probably wouldn’t notice them, but there’s a web of sensors scattered across North Carolina. In Mecklenburg County, officials are using them to keep people safe in hurricane conditions.

We know just a few inches of rain can can cause a massive headache in Charlotte.

This year, North Carolina rolled out new technology to monitor how bad it may get in high-risk places like Seversville Park, an area that’s prone to getting flooded by Stewart Creek.

More than 400 water gauges have been placed across the state under bridges, pipes and culverts. Each device has a sensor that measures the water pressure and level.

The idea started after Hurricane Florence in 2018, when we saw record flooding statewide. Anyone who lived in North Carolina then probably remembers how difficult the roads were to navigate after the storm.

At the time, the state already used the gauges, but after Florence, North Carolina leaders approved $2 million to improve them.

The difference now is that the sensors are equipped with technology to send flood information to the North Carolina Department of Transportation in real time. That helps determine when to shut down a road or even evacuate an area.

“It’s real-time information on the roadway network as the river stages increase or the coastal surge comes in,” said Matt Lauffer with NCDOT.

He added that drivers still need to be careful on flooded roads.

“Making sure you don’t drive in the water. Because even if you think the road is there, it may not be there,” Lauffer said. “If you can’t see the road, don’t even try it because the road could be gone. The pipe could be gone. And then you could be swept downstream.”

NCDOT started implementing the technology back in May, but with Ian being our first real storm this hurricane season, it’ll be the state’s first test to see how it works.

“We think ultimately it’s going to help reduce property damage, save lives and just allow us to use our resources more quickly, more rapidly and efficiently,” said Andrew Barksdale with NCDOT.

The sensors are all over Mecklenburg County, and a team of people will be monitoring the water levels throughout the weekend. NCDOT will also relay that information to local police and fire departments.


(WATCH BELOW: TRACKING IAN: SC coast prepares for landfall)