RALEIGH, N.C. – How much could it cost a home owner in eastern North Carolina to clean up the mess left behind by Hurricane Matthew?
A high-tech computer program that links topography, stream flow and property tax appraisal information in flood-prone areas gives property owners initial estimates. And it helps emergency workers target areas to evacuate before it's too late.
State emergency officials credit the North Carolina Flood Inundation Mapping and Alert Network with providing predictions about which buildings will experience flooding based on weather forecasts on history.
"I come to work because this saves lives," John Dorman, director of North Carolina's flood plain mapping program, said Monday.
He said it was a one-of-a-kind program. "No other state in the nation can respond like we do."
On the network's website , a user can hover on a GPS map and click the outlines of shaded buildings — a sign that flooding is likely. For example, one Lumberton home had an estimated 2.1 feet in flooding.
The cost to repair? The program says $18,100.
The project began in the years after Hurricane Floyd in 1999. The state remapped North Carolina's flood plains and collected data on more than 5 million buildings in the state. The network became faster and more user-friendly last year, including smartphone access. Users can receive email alerts when nearby river levels change.
"We know exactly when water will flow to the livable part of the house," Dorman said. The program uses a "damage curve" to calculate the dollar cost of the cleanup. It can be used after flooding to check on buildings remotely.