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Hodges Street Flooding. Is There A Fix?
Hodges Street and Raccoon Creek: A Brief History
February 28, 2018

odges Street and Raccoon Creek are the subject of an upcoming engineering and feasibility study. Thursday, March 1st at Town Hall, the public has the chance to give their input on the flooding occurring there and in the Duck Pond.

Hodges St. History 2018
Arthur Midyette, estimated to be between 4-5 years old, stands on the recently constructed dirt road of Hodges St, circa 1918.

Raccoon Creek, also known locally as Oriental’s Harbor, is subject to wind driven tides as is the rest of the Neuse. The town’s position at the southern end of Pamlico Sound means wind from the north-northeast stacks water into the river, causing it to overrun its banks and flood the low-lying areas of Oriental. It doesn’t take a hurricane to flood Hodges Street and nearby low-lying areas. A strong no-name storm can raise water levels two feet; enough to do the job.

Hodges St. History 2018
Hurricanes aren’t needed to raise water levels at the harbor. A strong storm is all it takes.

To get a historical perspective of the area, TownDock visited the Oriental History Museum and spoke with manager Sharon Breitling. Hodges Street, named for the Hodges family that moved into the area in the late 1880s, wasn’t always there. There was a time when boats came into Oriental Harbor, making their way to Main St. via the waterway that is now the Duck Pond.

Hodges St. History 2018
A page from Oriental’s history tells of a time when Raccoon Creek extended up to Main St. and livery stables were the car lots of the day.

Wall Street ended on one side and Hodges on the other. Hodges was extended over the Creek sometime between 1907, from the excerpt above, and 1918, judging by a photo of 4-5 year-old Albert Midyette standing on the completed dirt road.

Records from the Oriental Women’s Club pick up the story, calling the marsh area The Branch and The Lagoon. According to the notes, it caused problems for the Town by breeding mosquitos and harboring snakes. The notes speculate parts of the Branch became a town dump in an effort to alleviate those problems, not because residents needed a place to dispose of their unwanted items.

Hodges St. History 2018
An ice chest rescued from The Branch, aka the Duck Pond when it was more town dump and less dragon reflection pool.
The Duck Pond/Raccoon Creek in the 50s.

The women devised several methods of cleaning the area including burning it down (in 1918) and introducing sheep to eat the area clean (in 1923). “Someone else suggested goats would be better, as they could eat up the tin cans and bottles, too.” The thirties brought the help of the Boy Scouts who asked only for dinner in repayment. The Oriental Women’s Club presented them with a barbecue dinner for their efforts.

Hodges St. History 2018Hodges St. History 2018
Oriental Women’s Club notes detailing their efforts to clean up The Branch (aka the Duck Pond) and raise Hodges St. (Click to enlarge).

Flooding on Hodges Street was an issue even then. In 1964, members of the Oriental Women’s Club met with the Town Board to discuss repairing or raising the road. There is no note detailing what came of that meeting.

Hodges St. History 2018
Hodges and the Duck Pond in the 80s.

Recent hurricanes and tropical storms have pushed flood waters into the streets of Oriental time and again. Over the years, several ideas have been floated to help alleviate the flooding. A proposal from 2008 suggested replacing Main Street over the Duck Pond/Raccoon Creek with a pedestrian bridge.

Hodges St. History 2018
A 2008 proposition for the drainage problems: a pedestrian bridge instead of a road at Main St.

At the 2013 Town Board Retreat, then Town Manager Bob Maxbauer proposed raising Hodges Street 4-5 feet. That project also called for a 20-30 foot wide opening that would be wide enough, and depending on water levels, tall enough for kayakers and others to paddle from the harbor to the Duck Pond.

Oriental has received a grant for $16,550 from NOAA to fund a feasibility and engineering study on the flooding that occurs in and around Hodges Street and the Duck Pond/Raccoon Creek.

Residents are invited to Town Hall this Thursday, March 1st from 5:30p to 7p to give their input and ideas.

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Posted Wednesday February 28, 2018 by Allison DeWeese

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