Published: 2016-10-28 18:51:15
Updated: 2016-10-28 18:51:15
Posted October 28, 2016
Fayetteville, N.C. — Dozens of Fayetteville residents put in sweat equity to earn a Habitat for Humanity home. Now, they are sweating again to make repairs caused by Hurricane Matthew.
Montgomery Street, off Old Wilmington Road, is filled with Habitat homes, and the debris of destroyed belongings is now piled in front of them as the homeowners try to rebuild their lives.
"Flood came through and took us on out, destroyed our home," Donnell Simmons said. "We lost everything."
Simmons has lived in a Habitat home for 18 years. He also spent 18 years as a cook, and his skills are coming in handy now as he uses a propane cooker to prepare meals.
"I took my family across the street over there to the shelter so we got rescued. They came in and took us out on a boat," he said.
Fifteen years ago, Annie Woodard worked hard to get a place of her own in the neighborhood. She said she will never forget how Hurricane Matthew washed away her piece of the American dream.
"I was on the phone and hoping it wouldn't come in, and my feet started getting wet," Woodard said. "I was looking out the window, and it was going down the street and coming in the door.
"The sound, that was the worst," she said.
Woodard said she used a bicycle horn and a white flag to signal someone in a passing boat to rescue her. Now, her two brothers and her sister from Florida are helping clear the house so repairs can be made.
Gov. Pat McCrory toured the Habitat community on Friday and spoke with residents.
"Right now, our biggest challenge in the recovery from Hurricane Matthew is going to be housing," McCrory said. "We don't even have hotels to put people in because a lot of our hotels flooded."
None of the Montgomery Street residents had flood insurance. Although the Federal Emergency Management Agency is providing some financial assistance – primarily short-term housing and food – it once again will be Habitat volunteers who will help the residents reclaim their homes.
"I see only good things, and there's a good community development here," Habitat volunteer Ron Sheridan said. "You've got a core of Habitat homes in one area, so they're all in the same boat. They all understand what's happening and what's going to happen, and I can only see positive things. This neighborhood is going to be better than it was."