Eastern N.C. towns cleaning up from floods

Posted October 3, 2010 7:33 a.m. EDT
Updated January 20, 2011 12:40 p.m. EST

— Residents and helpful outsiders were cleaning up Sunday in eastern North Carolina towns where a rainy week capped by the passage of Tropical Storm Nicole's remnants pushed rivers and creeks to levels not seen since Hurricane Floyd in 1999.

Gov. Beverly Perdue toured flood damage in the towns of Windsor in Bertie County and Vanceboro in Craven County Sunday.

In Windsor, Perdue assured Mayor Jim Hoggard that the town will meet the criteria for a federal disaster area, allowing for government funds to help with the recovery.

“We'll do everything we can do that's legal to help this community recover,” Perdue said.

In Vanceboro, Perdue talked with Bertie County Attorney Lloyd Smith. Smith, who also has a private law practice, saw his office building flooded.

"I can't rebuild here. They say it's a 500-year floodplain, but apparently every 10 years, it's going to flood,” Smith said.

Schools will be closed Monday in Bertie County as residents continue to clean up from flooding. The public library near Dundee Street in Windsor is among the buildings damaged by high waters.


"Our children's collection, it's ruined,” librarian Nancy Hughes said. "They (children) depend on the library. We have got a poor county. They come in here to do their online schools. The children check out books."

More than 260 homes and businesses were flooded, and agricultural damage in Duplin County alone was expected to exceed $1 million, according to initial assessments by local and state crews this weekend. State and federal teams will start assessing damage Tuesday.

Flash floods hit Windsor late Thursday, prompting swift-water rescues that continued into Friday with the evacuation of a nursing home. No one was injured.

"I can't say enough about the guys that risked their lives to come out here at 2 o'clock in the morning, 3 o'clock in the morning, getting these folks out," Windsor Town Commissioner Joe Alexander said.

Much of the town was expected to remain underwater for several days, according to the State Emergency Response Team.

Triumph Missionary Baptist Church was flooded in 1999 and was rebuilt at a higher elevation was raised to protect the building. Deacon Johnny Daniels said that after this flood, water covered parts of the parking lot but hadn’t gotten to the building.

Residents of Windsor vowed that their town will recover from their second large flood in 11 years.

"Most of the folks here are going to rebuild,” Alexander said. "We've got generations and generations of people that just stay. We're fortunate."

They were getting help from groups including the North Carolina Baptist Men and Red Cross, along with their neighbors.

"It's like the old days with Andy Griffith. Everybody brings food, comfort," Alexander said. "When something happens to one, it happens to everybody in our town."

In Carolina Beach, crews pumping out millions of gallons of water from downtown, which was flooded when an 11-acre retention pond overflowed.

"We'll still be doing this until the end of next week. We'll get most of it down, but there's a lot of it," Roger Trogdon, of Carolina Beach, said.

Curious children found amusement in the flood waters. "We wanted to see how much it got flooded and see what we could find," Sierra Hunt said.

Sierra found the jackpot in puddles left by the receding waters. "There's thousands of tadpoles down there," she said.

Owner Ronnie Oldham counted himself lucky that flooding wasn't worse at the Dry Dock Motel.

"This year we got lucky, because we didn't have water over the door knobs like we did in '99," Oldham said. "Life's back to normal after this little bit of clean-up."