Local News

Flood Waters Slow to Recede in Many Areas

Posted September 22, 1999

— It is a nightmare thousands of people cannot wake up from. Hurricane Floyd may be long gone, but the flood water left behind is receding at a painfully slow pace.

Towns near the river in the eastern part of Edgecombe County are still washed out. A Princeville family has called Tarboro High School home for a week. They do not know when they will go back home again.

But the water is going down in the western part of Edgecombe County, and as the roads there start to dry out, some shelters are starting to close.

As weary residents leave shelters and start to move about town again, they are making it difficult for emergency crews to keep up with their whereabouts.

Rescue workers are asking displaced victims who have not registered in a shelter to let someone know where they are.

"I've had the question asked of us several times about how many people are missing. We just don't know because people went into private homes or other parts of the community. Unless we know where you are, you are considered missing, so please let them know you are safe," says Diane LeFiles, of Emergency Operations.

Thursday, the National Guard delivered much-needed food and supplies to areas like the Halifax County town of Hobgood that have felt isolated since the storm.

While the flood waters are receding across Wayne County, some areas still have a long way to go.

Seven Springs, the oldest town in the county, is completely under water. There are 170 residents here, many of them senior citizens.

Local rescue workers are patrolling the streets by boat.

"We're mainly trying to keep the people out of the water and away from their homes until the water recedes a little bit," says Chuck Barwick of the Seven Springs Rescue Squad.

At the height of the flooding, 45,000 acres of Wayne County was under water. More than 2,500 homes and businesses have been damaged.

The road to recovery is split in Wilson.

In the Willow Springs subdivision, one side of the street is insured, the other is not.

The Owens family lost generations of family treasures. Things money cannot replace, even though they have insurance.

Across the road, there was no reason for flood insurance. The Walston family's home was not in the flood plain. Nevertheless, they lost everything on the first floor.

"It's really hard to comprehend what's happened. It's really unbelievable. Emotions are still high. We've been here 13 years and have seen nothing close to this," says Larry Walston.

Many homes in the neighborhood had to be stripped down to their supports. It will take months to turn the shells back into homes. ,Brian BowmanandAmanda Lamb,John CoxandMichael Joyner


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