Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Reflections on Floyd

Posted September 16, 2009

What are your memories of Hurricane Floyd? I know it is painful for many of you but I would like to start a discussion today of North Carolina's deadliest and costliest hurricane which came ashore ten years ago today. What is your personal story from Floyd? What did the storm teach you? What lessons have we learned? What are your visual images? What are your emotional scars? What stories of goodwill and heroism rose up out of those devastating floodwaters?

I hope you will join WRAL Television tonight at 7:00PM for a special documentary on Floyd. You will be able to relive the tragedy but also see a lot of positive changes that have resulted from corrective action. We now have updated flood maps in NC. We also have a much better communications system linking local, state and federal authorities.

I remember how wrong I was the morning of Hurricane Floyd. Driving into work for WRAL's Morning News I remember thinking Floyd didn't seem nearly as bad as Hurricane Fran three years earlier. I compared the morning's commute to the nightmarish drive into work during the height of Hurricane Fran with trees crashing down and utility lines tumbling into piles of sparks. But we would soon get a feel for just how bad it was downeast. I took a phone call from a man trying to get out of his house along the Tar River. The water was rising fast. It was just the beginning .

Soon we would see see the surreal images of hogs, coffins and street signs floating down highways turned into rivers by relentless rains. Many people tried to navigate the flooded streets in their cars. This was the biggest problem with Floyd. 52 died in North Carolina during Floyd. Many of them perished in their cars.

Floyd came after Tropical Storm Dennis pounded the state with heavy rains. It was that one-two punch that saturated the soil and triggered a tragedy of epic proportions.

What are your reflections on Hurricane Floyd? Please share.


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  • sassysewer Sep 17, 2009

    I'll never forget the feeling I had when I went with my best friend to try to find her son who lived in Tarboro. We drove up to the edge of the waters that had crested only to see that the area he lived in had been completely covered by water. Then the real panic set in as we drove from shelter to shelter trying to locate him with no luck at finding him. It wasn't until a week later that she finally heard from her son. He was one of the fortunate ones that had been rescued from his home and was given a place to stay with a couple that had a large house and had opened it to as many people as they could. They took in total strangers and made sure they at least had a safe, dry place to stay until other accomodations could be made. There were alot of heroes like that...ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

  • Riverracer8 Sep 16, 2009

    That was an awful time. We always flood during hurricanes, but the water goes out as soon as the eye passes. We were fortunate that our house did not flood after Floyd, but we were pretty much isolated from the rest of the world. It was surreal to go into the grocery store and see shelves empty. The only positive thing that came out of the grocery shortage was that I learned how to make bread! I spent a month after Floyd volunteering at the Red Cross disaster relief center, and the stories were heartbreaking. I pray that nothing like that ever happens again here.

  • wdwbmw Sep 16, 2009

    My memories of Floyd are somewhat different from those of other people. Our son was engaged to a beautiful young lady who grew up in Nags Head with an outdoor wedding scheduled for Sunday afternoon. The week of the wedding, Dennis moved up the coast and the week following the wedding, Floyd did the same thing on a much grander scale. The wedding week-end itself was gorgeous, but the days before and after were not. A group had rented two large houses in Nags Head to stay the rest of the week following the wedding. Needless to say, that did not happen. The bride and groom got on the last flight leaving Norfolk before the airport was shut down and were able to have their honeymoon as scheduled. I learned a lesson from all that. The next time I pray for calm wedding weather, I'll be sure to ask for more than a week-end.

  • G whiz Sep 16, 2009

    Bill, Thank you sooooo much for mentioning Dennis. In explaining the amount of rain/water, I always say, "Without Dennis, there would never have been a Floyd." Floyd came ashore after Dennis had had not one but THREE runs over Eastern NC.)And I agree with you on getting caught off guard. I also thought everything was fine and that Floyd had rained a little and fizzled out...until I turned on the news. Truly shocking! Thanks for your input and coverage through the years; I look forward to the special tonight!

  • enjoytheride2011 Sep 16, 2009

    When hurricane Floyd came I was in 1st grade. I remember trees falling on our house, and we had to stay with my grandparents for 2 weeks in Onslow county because they had power before we did in Clayton.
    I'm doing my senior project about how the governement should provide more assistance to hurricane ravaged towns. Does anyone know of an "expert" or someone I could interview for info on how the government currently responds to hurricane disaster?

  • ziradog Sep 16, 2009

    I never understood how devastating a flood was until Floyd. I live outside Apex but tried to drive to Havelock the following weekend. We got detoured around Kinston & ended up on a dead-end road with people trying to wade out to their mobile homes & rescue stuff. Then we were sent down by the flooded water treatment plant. I traveled to Rocky Mount, Kinston, and lots of places with no name with a church group over the next several weeks working on flooded houses. I will NEVER forget that smell. I cannot imagine trying to put your household and your life back together after something like that.

  • wkp01 Sep 16, 2009

    I was living in Rocky Mount at that time. My wife and I were vacationing in Emerald Isle and had to evacuate and go back home to Rocky Mount. We stopped at King's Barbeque in Kinston for lunch on the way which later flooded. There was lots of rain then. It never stopped. We unloaded the car during the let up and settled in for the night. We lost power sometime overnight. The next morning it was still raining but soon let up. Power came on later as well as cable. I turned the TV to WRAL-5. WHAT A SHOCK. A WRAL-TV crew was on Highway 64 bypass in Rocky Mount looking down from the overpass onto Highway 301/Wesleyan Blvd. in front of Lowe's, IHOP, and down to Premier Ford. I saw appliances, lumber and other debris as well as vehicles sitting on top of one another in the car lot. It left me speechless because I had not realized how bad it had been. I was blessed to be living where I was. So many people suffered terrible loss of life and property during Floyd. I learned never to take a hurri

  • Glomae Sep 16, 2009

    Bill, I too remember thinking that Floyd was not as bad as previous hurricanes. But then the flood waters began rising. My little town down east never flooded but every town around us did. It was like we were an island. When we could finally get around, we went to Windsor to help the flood victims. I helped clean out the local grocery store that was destroyed and I still remember the horrible smell. I'm not sure Windsor has ever completely recovered.

  • wballanceunc Sep 16, 2009

    I was in high school at the time and many of my friends were directly affected by the flood waters here in Rocky Mount. Fortunately my family was not directly affected. I remember driving around and being amazed at the amount of water but then work began and I helped many of my friends clean out their houses, tearing out wet sheet rock, etc. I also remember the smell of the water as it sat for days in many places. Rocky Mount was really divided into sections of islands and it was very hard to get around. In the flooded places it was aweful but dry areas were very normal considering. The first few days when the power was still of everyone was grilling food they had in their fridges and it was really like a block party. I think it was here that lots of neighborhoods and the community began to come together as people shared stories they heard and "salvage" teams were organized. People opened their homes to their friends who had been flooded out and helped in any way they could.

  • 2thebeach Sep 16, 2009

    I was working for EPA at the time; we formed a group and went to Trenton to help the folks down there. I also worked on a crew that went to Rocky Mount. I've lived at the beach my entire life and have seen more than my share damage from hurricanes, but nothing like the hopelessness caused by Floyd. It was overwhelming.

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Bill Leslie