Local News

Floodwaters Draw Some Families Closer

Posted November 23, 1999 6:00 a.m. EST

— Thanksgiving is tough for many folks in eastern North Carolina who lost their homes, belongings and businesses due to Hurricane Floyd.

But the devastating flood is actually bringing one Rocky Mount family together and giving them a lot to be thankful for.

Although the water has receded, the damage remains. Businesses closed, homes torn apart, trees uprooted. Still, among the grim scenes there are signs of recovery and clean-up -- and of courage.

Lovie Harrell and her family experienced Floyd just as many others did in Rocky Mount. It will be months before her home is ready And she and her husband are still living in the small travel trailer provided them after their home was destroyed.

But this Thanksgiving, for the first time since 1968, the year her father died, her entire extended family will sit down together for dinner.

Until now it seemed everyone was too busy to get together for the holidays.

"This is the first time in 30 years that everyone has gotten together. I know it's what (my father) would have wanted," she said.

This year, Hurricane Floyd splintered many lives but it also brought people together. Just about everyone in Lovie Harrell's family found their homes gutted. But 20 relatives are gathering together for turkey and the trimmings, and they hope to do the same for Christmas. They say the damage has made them think twice about how important they are to each other.

JoAnn Whitaker says she has a new perspective, too. "I am looking forward to it. I am thankful no one in my family. lost their life," she said. She can cite relatives who lost their homes and everything in them, but they everyone's life was spared.

They are among hundreds getting help from their church and the government.

People hit by the floodwaters in eastern North Carolina are not enjoying their situation, but it has had some beneficial effects. Lovie Harrell says the storm did a good thing for her family.

"It seems as if this has brought us more together than we were before," she said. "Sometimes it takes things like that to get the family together, and just pull together and love one another and just praise God together."