The Story: The Damage

Well, it doesn't matter whether you're a millionaire or whether you make ten thousand dollars a year. When you lose everything, you've lost it.

- Steve Holland, Pender County, NC

House destroyed in Rocky Mount, NC

A house in Rocky Mount, NC was swept off its foundation by the
flooding of Hurricane Floyd. Photography by Martha Daniel.

Imagine being woken in the early hours of the morning by firefighters pounding on your door, telling you that water is quickly approaching your home and you have to escape by boat. You bring with you only the things you can carry, and spend the next days in a shelter with hundreds of strangers, unsure how you are going to eat and when you can return home. A week later, you're allowed to tour your neighborhood and witness the damage caused by the worst natural disaster in North Carolina's recent history. What would your reaction be? How would you cope with the disaster?

Hurricane Floyd made history as one of the most damaging storms ever to hit North Carolina. Its floodwaters devastated residents both financially and emotionally, and caused a loss of life not seen in the state since an unnamed hurricane killed 53 people in 1883. Floodwaters rose to unprecedented levels and stayed high for days. There were reports of restaurants filled with flowing water above the countertops, homes flooded nearly to their ceilings, and cars drifting away down roads that now resembled rivers. While the flooding proved destructive to land and property, it also created deadly conditions for drivers and boat passengers escaping the waters. According to the National Hurricane Center, 86% of the deaths caused by the storm were due to inland floodwaters and 55% occurred when motorists tried to drive through the high water. One of the tragic lessons learned from Floyd was the danger of high flooding for drivers.

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