Hurricanes

Cumberland County residents bracing for Florence as memories of Hurricane Matthew linger

Posted September 10, 2018 6:58 p.m. EDT

— Community leaders in Fayetteville and Cumberland County are gearing up for what could be a catastrophic storm.

That's what happened here on Pennystone Drive in Cumberland County two years ago when Hurricane Matthew roared through the area, displacing 22 families from their homes.

Since then, only three families have returned, including Joyce Elwood but she is not looking forward to Hurricane Florence.

Just before Christmas, Elwood and her three children celebrated returning their home more than a year after being flooded out by Hurricane Matthew.

"I was hanging onto my lift because the water was going fast down the hallway," she said. "And my legs were up in the air through the water, so I couldn't walk."

Elwood decided not to evacuate.

She and her children were trapped in chest-high water overnight before being pulled to safety.

It's a decision she regrets and a mistake she won't make with Hurricane Florence.

"I'm going to go ahead and leave," she said. "I have no idea when. It will have to be Wednesday or before."

Paul White's father lives on Pennystone Drive.

His family, like 19 others, has not been able to move back in and now another major hurricane is on the way.

"I'm afraid for the people who have moved back in already because the one main issue we have was the drainage problem," he said. "If the drainage system was never fixed, where is all that water going to go from the river?"

Elwood and her family are also concerned about river overflow.

"I'm not thrilled," she said.

The families who live along Pennystone Drive are bracing for Hurricane Florence.

And Fayetteville State University has implemented a voluntary evacuation plan for students who live on campus.

And officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, said they plan to stage recovery supplies at Simmons Army Airfield at Fort Bragg.