The winds of Hurricane Floyd felled numerous ancient trees,
but the real damage would come from the floodwaters that rose
two to three days after the winds subsided. Photograph by
Residents who were unable to flee before the storm hit huddled for hours on rooftops or clung to trees, waiting for rescue after their homes were filled with water. Over 1,500 people were rescued in the 24 hours following the hurricane, and over 3,500 had been rescued by September 18, two days after Floyd made landfall. Many of these rescues were made by helicopter. So many rescue helicopters were crossing the skies searching for stranded storm survivors that the Coast Guard flew one chopper above the others to control the air traffic.
In the days after the storm, impromptu shelters, such as local schools and churches, were overflowing. Displaced residents slept side-by-side on the floors of classrooms, gyms, and hallways. Often these shelters didn't have power or running water. No organized method of reporting the names of shelter residents was set up, so worried storm survivors searched for information about the location of friends and family members through word of mouth.