Neighborhoods Drown, but Neighbors Survive Floyd's Flooding Thanks to Each Other
Posted November 6, 1999
Updated July 31, 2008
ROCKY MOUNT — After Hurricane Floyd, the job of saving lives was too big for professional rescue crews alone. Some flood victims became heroes. In Rocky Mount, one family found heroes living right next door.
In the dawn of the morning after Hurricane Floyd, Jamie Renee Evans and her family gathered upstairs to get away from the rising water.
"We were all upstairs just praying and crying and repenting because we thought the world was coming to an end," Evans says.
Her extended family, including a 78-year-old grandmother and five young children, all huddled together waiting for rescue boats. When a boat arrived, the next door neighbors jumped in to help with the rescue.
"Andrew, Ernest and myself, we all, we basically waded in the water with the firemen," explains neighbor Charles Hooper.
Hooper is one of four cousins who shared a home; all four helped their neighbors escape the flood.
Rescue boats took Evans, one sister and a couple of children first. Her neighbors stayed behind to make sure everyone else got out safely too.
"My big concern was the women and children, especially the elderly person, because she looked as if she was hyperventilating, and I wanted to get her, we wanted to get her out as soon as possible," Hooper says.
The group remained in the house together, waiting for a rescue boat that never came. Finally, they took matters into their own hands -- literally.
"We got the plastic swimming pool, and we started putting folks in this plastic swimming pool, taking them over there," Hooper says.
Higher, safer ground was just a few blocks away, but it was a slow, hard trip in a plastic wading pool.
"We had to hold it up, and when we held it, we had to hold it from the bottom because it was kind of sinking a little bit, because we had about three people in there," he says.
Thanks to the help of Evan's neighbors, everyone made it out safely.
Her old house is empty as is the entire neighborhood, but the feeling of neighborliness is still strong.
"'No greater love does a man have than to lay down his life for a friend,'" Evans quotes scripture. "And that's what I think about when I think about Charles and Andrew and Ernest."
Evans' family now lives in a rental home, provided by FEMA.