Academic journal article Southern Cultures

The Great Deluge

Academic journal article Southern Cultures

The Great Deluge

Article excerpt

A Chronicle of the Aftermath of Hurricane Floyd

When Hurricane Floyd visited North Carolina almost exactly two years ago, it was the worst natural disaster in the state's history. According to the North Carolina Division of Emergency Management and the Charlotte Observer, Floyd and its floods left fifty-one dead, sixty-six counties declared disaster areas, $6 billion in damage, 1.5 million people without power, 48,000 people in shelters, and hundreds of thousands of livestock dead. The storm flooded out twenty-four wastewater treatment plants, destroyed seven dams, and caused over $150 million in damage to state highways and $75 million to bridges and drainage systems. In all, Floyd forced police and the military to perform 1,400 swift-water evacuations.

The swelling of the Cape Fear, Neuse, and surrounding river basins transformed the geography and terrain of much of North Carolina. It also changed forever the people who endured it and left behind innumerable stories. Three months after Floyd, historian Charles D. Thompson Jr. and photographer Rob Amberg visited flood damaged communities in North Carolina to record eyewitness accounts of the hurricane and its aftermath. Here are the images and, in these survivors' own words, their chronicle of The Great Deluge.

"I walked out to the corner and walked over to where the bridge was at and just looked at the water to see how it was coming along. I'm saying to myself, `It's not doing anything; we're going to be alright.' So I came back and went to bed."

--Walter Davis Jr., administrator at the Caswell Center Grifton, North Carolina

"And the water was just trickling across the road. And I said, `Well, it's about to peak out. This don't come this high.' And we came on home and went to bed."

--Aaron Cavenaugh, turkey farmer Northeast, North Carolina

"We're blessed because when that flood came through here, I tell you what, it was just as pretty as it could be that Thursday. Sun was shining and it was warm. ... That night we went to bed, the lights were off.... About the time we got to bed good, there were lights flashing to the window and the water was up just that quick. We hurried up and got our clothes on and got out and stepped in the water, right there to the doorstep. Just that quick."

--Walter Davis Sr., retired DuPont employee Grifton, North Carolina

"I didn't know what was going on, so I got my flashlight. I walked out to see what was going on. I stepped out on the back porch, and water came up to ... to my knees, and that woke me up. I got in high gear. And I already had an overnight bag packed.... I just grabbed it, threw it in my truck and got out. Got out. It was something. It was unbelievable. I just did not realize how quick that water had rose like that."

--Walter Davis Jr., administrator at the Caswell Center Grifton, North Carolina

"We were putting deeds and files in a trash bag and tying them up."

--Jenny Cavenaugh, turkey farmer and antique dealer Northeast, North Carolina

"The water was coming. I don't know what kind of force it was, but it was terrible. The water was just rolling like there was pressure behind it. I just haven't ever seen water do like that before. I was thinking that after we had gotten out--I said to myself, `The force that was behind that water; it might just wash the house down.'"

--Walter Davis Sr., retired DuPont employee Grifton, North Carolina

"I felt like that I was a refugee or something because we were all--I mean I went out with my gown, a shoe of one color on each foot, and my pocketbook. That's all.... It came quick.... You're talking about a foot of water that afternoon to chest deep on a six-foot man by eight o'clock."

--Jenny Cavenaugh, turkey farmer and antique dealer Northeast, North Carolina

"We were behind one another praying to get out of that water."

--Walter Davis Sr. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.