In water's wake, many in Goldsboro forced to start over

Posted October 14, 2016
Updated October 15, 2016

— When residents returned to their homes across Wayne County this week, many found an "X" sprayed on their house. That's the symbol that rescue teams use to communicate that the property has been checked and no one was found inside.

"When I pulled up, I saw the condemned sign on my house," said Thomas Atkinson.

Atkinson thought he might return to some flood damage. Turns out, he has no home to return to at all.

"This house is not livable. We can't stay in the house," he said.

Atkinson has had water in his basement before, but not like this.

Atkinson, his wife and two children have no choice but to walk away. They didn't have flood insurance.

"It is hard to pick up and go at a moment's notice, but they condemned the home so I've got to go," he said.

Along McArthur Street, more homes are condemned. Latoya Sykes' home was on higher ground, but still feels her community was washed away.

"It's going to be a ghost town over here," she said.

In a walk through Shackle Free Church Outreach Ministry on Friday, Pastor Ray Williams found himself walking on water in the church he helped build nine years ago. Pews, musical equipment, carpet, walls – everything was touched by the water. Puddles remained on the floor and sloshed with every step.

It's enough to make Williams lean on his faith like never before.

"He is in complete control. He has the final say, and this is just a test," Williams said of the long road to recovery ahead for his community.

Three shelters remain open, at Carver and Carver Heights elementary schools and at East Wayne High School, and the public school system won't ask students to return until at least Thursday, Oct. 20.

The county landfill in Dudley is waiving fees for people throwing out storm-related debris.

On Saturday, Debbie Seagroves began mending her home. It will be weeks before her house is liveable again.

"I believe that a year ago, when we bought the house, that God knew Matthew was coming, and we prayed about buying this house and we still bought it, so it's not a mistake. It's all good," Seagroves said.

Gov. Pat McCrory reminded those able to get to their properties to assume that everything touched by flood water is contaminated. Sewage, sediment and even waste from hog lagoons washed into rivers as they rose and rolled east across the state.

A cleanup kit should include rubber boots and waterproof gloves along with brooms, mops, brushes, sponges, buckets, rags, cleaning solutions, trash bags and even a hair dryer.

Anything that can be salvaged should to be disinfected. Things like rugs and drywall will never dry right and should be discarded.


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