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Businesses Hope to Recover Financial Losses From Floyd During Christmas

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TARBORO — Hurricane Floyd swept through the state in early September, but some people in eastern North Carolina are still being hit hard. Hundreds of businesses are trying to survive a holiday season full of struggles.

On Saturday, shoppers were strolling the streets and browsing the stores for Christmas gifts.

"Well, it feels kind of good to come downtown and see some life down here and people smiling again," Betty Heath, a Tarboro resident, said. "The stores are looking fresh and new."

Rex Browning had to shut down his jewelry store for eight weeks while he made repairs after Hurricane Floyd flooded his business. He has been busy since the store reopened on Tuesday, but even the holiday-shopping rush will not make up for the business he lost.

"Layaways start in early September and go right up until Christmas," Browning said. "We don't have any layaways because we weren't here to take them."

Down the street, Roberts Jewelers is closing its doors forever. Bob Raskin planned to retire soon from the store his father founded 60 years ago, but floodwaters convinced him to call it quits now.

"I think there is probably less around to spend than there normally is," Raskin said. A sign on Main Street encourages residents to shop in Tarboro first, but flood victims may not have much to spend this year.

That is true for Jordan Shaw, whose house in Tarboro was under seven feet of water. He says he plans to celebrate Christmas in a FEMA trailer.

"It makes me feel kind of sad, but I'm still blessed," Shaw said.

A lot of people who lost their homes plan to make their holidays feel as normal as possible, even if that means they have to decorate their FEMA trailers this year.

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Stephanie Hawco, Reporter
Lynn French, Photographer
Kamal Wallace, Web Editor

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