While firefighters saved lives, Florence flooded their homes

At one Duplin County fire station, 15 of 19 firefighters suffered damage to their homes, while they were out saving others.

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Mandy Mitchell
, WRAL enterprise reporter

A group of first responders from Duplin County is struggling to rebuild after Hurricane Florence.

More than half of the firefighters from the Northeast Volunteer Fire Department lost everything while they were busy helping others.

This isn't a hidden pain. Reminders of the storm are piled up for miles and right across the street from the fire station.

"You drive by and you see the stuff sitting in the road," said firefighter Ted Demott. "It was very hard seeing what mother nature can do."

This department is made up of 28 volunteers -- first responders who don't see a dime for their efforts and only hear a calling. During Florence they braved the flooding, going out in the storm to save others.

And while they were out in the storm, the waters were rising on their streets and into their homes. Of the 28 firefighters, 19 lost everything they owned.

"When I was able to see a picture of our house," Demott said, "--I am 48 years old and it dropped me."

Demott moved here a few years ago from New York. He's heard stories about Hurricane Floyd and now he's living through a storm story of his own.

"It was very hard seeing what mother nature can do," he said.

Kenneth Cavanaugh is the fire department's chief. He lost everything during Floyd. Now, after days out in the rain, he came home, by boat, to find standing water in his house.

"It's devastating," Cavanaugh said. "Try to keep doing other stuff to keep your mind off of it."

Other stuff like continuing to serve others. The fire station itself was heavily damaged by flood waters, but from the second the water receded the firefighters, and volunteers from all over the country, have been gathering supplies here for a community in need.

"For us to be able to do this and help people -- it makes me more proud."

Those who lost everything -- finding peace in continuing to give.


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