Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Vivid hurricane memories

Posted September 1, 2010

What is your most vivid hurricane memory? Please share your stories as we get ready for Hurricane Earl along the North Carolina coast.

Hurricane Fran in 1996 impacted me personally more than any of the others with all those trees that fell on my roof but I certainly felt the pain of the people downeast in Wilson, Rocky Mount, Tarboro and Princeville three years later in the massive flooding caused by Hurricane Floyd.

Hurricane Hugo in 1989 was a powerful storm that pummeled Charlotte and brought down huge trees all across the Queen City. I covered Hugo in Wilmington where we thought landfall would occur. But of course we remember Hugo's violent march inland near Charleston and the damaging path it took on into the mountains of western North Carolina.

Some of you may remember Hazel. I remember stories of people remembering Hazel but not the hurricane itself.

What are your hurricane memories?


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  • jpittard2 Sep 7, 2010

    We had a tree go THOUGH our house during Fran. It landed on my daughter's bed but she was at ECU. We were out of our house for 5 months. What an adventure that was. During hurricane Hugo, we lost 4 big sweet gun trees. They sounded like missles as they flew into the street. One fell right in front of a small car. My husband had to move some of the branches so the driver could get around it and get home! After Fran, my husband had all of our large trees removed!

  • Big Mike Sep 5, 2010

    Has to be Fran in my lifetime....we had 5 big pine trees fall on the house..and a daughter who worked with WRAL at the time. She was on the night time shift and dodged falling trees all the way to work that night. She made it ok, but we we're more afraid for her than us.....

  • nobio Sep 3, 2010

    My family lived in Fairmont NC when Hurricane Hazel struck NC. I was in the second grade and had just got to school when we were told to go straight home as quick as possible. Hurricane Hazel struck with 100 to 150 mph winds. Dad had to stay at work to protect the store if anything was damaged. Mom, my sister and brother were at home. It was bad, but the worse was yet to come. During a lull of the storm, Dad came home to check on us. The storm started again worse than ever.
    We lived in an old farm house that was being remodeled with a central hall. We had moved all our belongings into the newly remodeled half. When Hurricane Hazel started again, I remembered noises and sounds louder than any I'd had ever heard before. The next sound was a tremendous crash. Mom opened the hall door and the half of the house being worked on collapsed. The reinforcement that the new walls and ceiling provided had kept the half of the house that we were in from collapsing.

  • PAINFREE Sep 3, 2010

    To Lynnslaughter: I can't recall Peggy Johnson, but with Oxford High School's being such a small school, I probably did know her. On the other hand, being a senior, I might not have known all of the underclassmen. You know how Seniors were! And to Wayneboyd: My mother was calulating the sale at the Banner Warehouse that day, and was afraid to leave the warehouse to come home in the storm. School was let out about one o'clock, and when they said a hurricane was coming, I was dumbfounded; I had never heard of a hurricane except on the coast. I had sat through Carol and Dianne in Beaufort earlier that summer, and thought I knew all about hurricanes!! Daddy was a tobacco buyer, following sale that day, but he came home to be with me and my brother, and boy, was I glad to see him! I don't remember when my mother got home, but it was after dark.

  • westoflyra Sep 3, 2010

    I wasn't living in Rocky Mount at the time that Floyd hit, but my family went through it. I came back to Rocky Mount that Thanksgiving and drove through the areas that were affected. It was a strange feeling to see all those abandoned houses. If you ever saw the beginning of the film "Poltergeist II", that's what it looked like. Eventually all the houses across the street where I lived for 20 years were demolished. The creek down there would flood on occasion, but to see just how high the water came up (a house on that street was featured on WRAL coverage) was amazing.

  • happy Sep 3, 2010

    Fran affected me personally, like no other hurricane. I sure was scared that night. No damage as we lived in a subdivision that had been built on farm land in Johnston County. All the trees were ones we planted and only a few years old. But to feel that house shake and shake for hours is a feeling I never want to feel again.

    I volunteered to go with a group to clean up after Floyd. I'm certain that I've never cried that many tears in my life. Utter destruction. Water marks up into the rafters..and the stench!

    I'll never forget one house we were gutting. Finding silverware in the bedroom and underwear in the kitchen. I found a child's drawing that was wet but salvagable and laid it out in the sun to dry out. On one trip out carrying items to the trash, I saw the mom standing over that picture and weeping. She was so grateful to have that saved. Still brings a tear to my eye.

  • wayneboyd Sep 3, 2010

    The morning that Hazel came through my father and I went to Oxford. He had tobacco on the first sale at Banner Warehouse.
    About 8:30 he took me to the courthouse and I got my drivers license. It was raining cats and dogs outside and the windshield on our old '46 Ford leaked so bad the driveing instructor had to almost sit in my lap to keep dry.
    We were in Banner warehouse when Hart Curl announced over the radio that Hazel had just hit Creedmore, the clocks stopped at 2:10 and at our house they did not come back on for 21 days. We ate what mom could cook on a wood heater in the living room, and we had to carry water from a neighbor who had a well up the road from where we lived. Our farm suffered little damage we lost the roof from one tobacco barn was about it. My younger brothers and sister sat in a school bus through the entire storm as schools were totally unprepared for what was going to happen. They arrived home after dark that night. It was scary for a bit.

  • rbl2000 Sep 2, 2010

    I was about 20 years old and taking a year off of college, living at my parent's house in Washington, NC, when Bertha came through. Neighborhood was Washington Park which is right on the Pamlico River and floods easily. It was a long, dark, windy night with no power! I remember the wind finally died down sometime around 2am and the sound of waves lapping against the side of the house was so strange! Then when Floyd came I was living in Goldsboro where the flooding was very bad and we were without power for a week or so and it was very hot! The morning after Floyd I remember just trying to find a hot cup of coffee somewhere. Found a small gas station that had electricity...the owner's daughter made coffee but she didn't know how to do it and it turned out so weak it was like drinking tea! I also have a ten year old "Floyd Baby" that just started fifth grade! :-0

  • onedayatatime Sep 2, 2010

    I can recall sleeping thru Fran and then the unbearable heat with no a/c for a week or two afterwards. driving on 440 past the Crabtree mall exit at a snails pace and seeing Crabtree creek so high that the BP and other gas stations on that corner were submerged. All you could see was the tip top of the roof over the gas pumps in the rushing newly formed Crabtree river. The mall parking deck looked only one story. Also I recall trying to find a hot meal and going down Hillsborough street after hearing campus had limited power and going into a sub shop and seeing folks turned away b/c all the food was spoiled. Seeing fights at gas stations over gas and ice prior to and after the storm. all the ATMs out of cash. surreal experience I hope to never re-live.

  • leannfan1 Sep 2, 2010

    I remember both Fran & Floyd. I was only 13 when Fran came through and it was on my moms birthday. 3 years later I was affected by Floyd. I live in Rocky Mount and my grandma lived right on the Tar River. Fortunately, she stayed with my aunt and uncle that night, after us begging a pleding with her to. Unfortunately, she lost everything on the first floor of her house, including pictures of my mom and uncle as kids and her wedding picuture. Luckily the people I also remember that me and my 2 best friends went to a Backstreet Boys concert in Charlotte the next day (the tickets were nonrefundable and our parents saw no need for us to stay at home wih no power so my bestfriend's mom took us). It took us 30 mn to get to a house only 5 min away because of all of the flooding. I knew a lot of people who lost everything. We were fortunate to have only suffered minor damage to our home.




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