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Don’t trust GPS navigation apps in eastern NC or risk being in flood waters, says NCDOT

Motorists are being warned that they risk being surrounded by water in North Carolina if they use popular GPS navigation apps such as Waze, Apple Maps and Google Maps.

“GPS navigation companies are not keeping up with all the road closures and are directing people onto roads that are confirmed closed and flooded,” said a statement issued by the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

“It is not safe now to trust them with your life. This storm, this flooding, these road closings are worse than (Hurricane) Matthew, and they’ll get even worse,” said a tweet from NCDOT.

As of Tuesday, more than 1,050 roads were closed in North Carolina due to flooding related to Hurricane Florence’s heavy rains, including 35.93 inches in Elizabethtown. Many of those closures include primary routes, major highways and Interstates 95 and 40, says NCDOT.

The National Weather Service said in a tweet Tuesday that many rivers in the Carolinas are in flood stage and still rising, and the ”flooding could last weeks.”

Among those noting the GPS problems was TV reporter Jasmine Spencer, who tweeted a photo Monday of a badly flooded intersection of Interstate 95. “My GPS says there is about a 3 minute walk to the Fayetteville Police Department training center from here,” she wrote.

North Carolina DOT officials have asked for days that out of state drivers to avoid driving in the state if possible.

“A map in a catastrophe is only so good as its ability to capture real-time information either from sensors or people,” Steve Goldsmith, a professor who directs Harvard University’s Data-Smart City Solutions project, told The Associated Press.

Goldsmith added that Waze benefits from using “a large community of users” to add the latest data about road conditions. However, that information may suffer from being “less well organized,” the Associated Press said.

Waze told USA Today it was working with local governments and volunteer map editors to mark road closures in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.

A video posted by the NCDOT this week showed parts of Interstate 40 in Pender County were covered with water deep enough to allow boating over the traffic lanes.

Detours have been established, some of which are taking drivers 100-plus miles out of the way to avoid the flooding, say state officials.

Mark Price: 704-358-5245, @markprice_obs
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