Local News

One year later, family hold vigils for Hurricane Matthew victims

Posted October 8, 2017 7:57 p.m. EDT
Updated October 9, 2017 12:25 a.m. EDT

— Family and friends held memorials across the state to remember the the people who died in Hurricane Matthew one year ago.

The storm claimed the lives of more than 20 people in North Carolina. Thousands were displaced and without power for an extended period of time. And the storm left millions of dollars in damage.

Family honored the life of 19-year-old Diamond Bennett by gathering at a local community center in Smithfield Sunday to share words of encouragement.

"A part of her lives in all of us," Linda Bennett Baker, her grandmother said. "Her name described her. She sparked like a diamond. She loved everybody. She never met somebody that she didn't like. She was just a lover or people. Especially kids. She loved kids."

Bennett drowned after being swept away by swift water while driving in her car. She called for help but drowned in the rising water.

"She was trying to get home with work. Her shift had ended, and she was trying to make it home," said Tiffany Williams, Bennett's aunt said.

The vigil focused on the way Bennett would have wanted family to celebrate her life - spending time together, having fun and remembering what's truly important.

"We all loved her in our own way. She lives on, and we try to keep her alive by doing stuff, and you know we get together and talk about her like she's still there," Baker said.

They also honored first responders who attempted to rescue people during the storm.

The family says now during hurricane season, a storm is not just a storm, it brings a different kind of anxiety.

But the vigil focused on the life she brought to the people she loved.

"There isn't a day we don't think about her," Baker said. "It's amazing that she still sparkles on our lives even though she's not with us."