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August 2008 Flooding

On August 27, 2008, Charlotte-Mecklenburg was hit with the worst flooding in a decade. Hundreds of people were evacuated from homes, many by swift-water rescue boats. More than 600 homes, apartments and businesses had flood damage. Less than half had flood insurance.

Watch this short video for first-hand accounts of residents talking about the flood one year after it happened.

Floodwater from Tropical Storm Fay didn't just damage property. It disrupted lives. Fay flood survivors described the flood as:

  • "devastating"
  • "scary"
  • "turned my life upside down"
  • "I lost everything"
  • "We came out with nothing."

Flood damage summary

Rainfall from Fay topped 11 inches, with part of the Briar Creek watershed getting more than two inches of rain in one hour.

   Flooded apartment building

Flooded apartment building
Cavalier Apartments during Fay flood

See the August 27 Rainfall Map.

Water depths in some parts of Mecklenburg County exceeded the "100-year flood" level. Record flood heights were recorded on 19 local stream gauges.

Two months before the flood, Mecklenburg County had used a federal grant to help purchase the Cavalier Apartments in a floodplain buyout. The destructive flood created new urgency in plans to relocate the tenants, then tear down the entire complex.

One year later, every trace of the Cavalier Apartments was gone. The floodplain has been restored as open space. A Storm Water Services water quality project is further transforming the creek and surrounding floodplain that once housed the Doral and Cavalier Apartments

The 2008 flooding also prompted Mecklenburg County to spend nearly $6 million of local money to buy 37 flooded homes that met specific criteria. Quick Buy goals:

  • Buy the property and tear it down before residents make repairs to a home that is very likely to flood again.
  • Return the floodplain to open space.
  • Provide a benefit for the entire community such as greenway along the creek or features in the floodplain to remove water pollution.

This video describes the 2008 Quick Buy program.

Participating in the Floodplain Buyout Program is voluntary. After buying and removing the Cavalier Apartments and the Quick Buy homes in 2009, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services restored another 27 acres of urban floodplain to open space.

Cavalier Apartment site one year after the flood.
Cavalier Apartments site today