Local News

Rocky Mount Residents Return to Flooded Homes

Posted September 18, 1999

— Some residents in Rocky Mount returned to their homes Sunday for the first time since waters from the Tar River flooded their neighborhoods.

Residents spent the day cleaning up and tossing out everything that was ruined by flooding.

Linda Marks hopes to salvage some family photographs from her mother's flood-ravaged home in Rocky Mount.

"Hopefully we have saved some of these but it shows the destruction here," she says of the photographs.

Just about everything else was ruined when the Tar River swept through the house.

"Mother has an old piano that was floating in the house. All of her furniture is ruined. The carpet is ruined," Marks says.

Across town, grateful flooding victims accept donations of bottled water, ice and batteries. Wachovia Bank shipped three truckloads of supplies to Rocky Mount.

A thousand people showed up. The line of waiting cars stretched around the building.

"Right now, thanks to God, there's a lot of people willing to come together and I think that's a great thing."

The Tar River started rising again Sunday, as water rushed downstream from Louisburg.

One drowning victim was found in Swift Creek, another in Stoney Creek. A military helicopter is still running rescue missions.

But in most of Rocky Mount, the water is receding and the damage is evident. National Guardsmen stood duty near washed-out roads. Workers pumped water out of a water plant.

Still, businesses and homes are totally submerged in water.

More than two hundred people are still living in three shelters in Rocky Mount. Most are evacuees from flooded-out towns such as Tarboro and Greenville.

Shelters closer to those towns are full, and evacuees are being told it might be Thursday before they are able to go home.

Thousands more people in Eastern North Carolina are without power, food, clean drinking water or shelter because of Hurricane Floyd's floodwaters. They have lost everything, including their will to fight.

In Tarboro, many people are living in shelters right now, wondering just what condition their homes are in.

"You look at this (damage) on TV and you say that this could never happen, but it's happening, and it's for real," says Leon Waller, who owns three stores on Main Street in downtown Tarboro.

By air and by the truckload, volunteers are bringing in the bare necessities of life to the 500 people who call Martin Middle School home.

"The community is really coming together and helping everybody," says volunteer Cheryl Everett. "There's a lot of water and food, but it's never enough. We never know exactly how long they're going to be here."

Resident Sarah Belle still cannot find her home. The only way anyone can get there is by boat.

Belle says that one good thing has resulted from all the damage.

"To look at this water, coming from one side to the other is pushing whites and blacks together, Hispanics and African Americans -- it's pushing us all together," says Belle. "And we're now trying to get through this difficult time together."

If you are trying to find family or friends who may be in an Edgecombe County shelter, call(252)641-7916, 641-7917. and 641-7920.Emergency management officials ask that you call these numbers instead of the shelters.

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