A resident walks from her flooded house towards the crew of the Cajun Navy in Lumberton, North Carolina, on September 15, 2018 in the wake of Hurricane Florence. Besides federal and state emergency crews, rescuers were being helped by volunteers from the “Cajun Navy” — civilians equipped with light boats, canoes and air mattresses — who also turned up in Houston during Hurricane Harvey to carry out water rescues. Alex EDELMAN / AFP
With rain still falling and no electricity, residents of New Bern, North Carolina are starting to pick up the pieces after devastating flooding caused by Hurricane Florence.
At the confluence of the Neuse and Trent rivers, where several hundred people were rescued from flood waters, uniformed national guardsmen tour an area to provide assistance.
“Do you need anything?” one asks. “Power!” a weary young woman replies.
Clint Hawkins and Jenny Baras accept food and water. They did not imagine living such a “nightmare” when they moved from New York to North Carolina.
“It’s our first hurricane. The wind was quite strong, some branches went down. But we were mainly affected by the flooding. The water started to rise even before the hurricane was here,” Baras said.
She shows photos taken the day before on her phone: “Do you see the red car over there? It was completely covered with water.”
Debris litters the ground around their modest red brick home and neighbors have left wet mattresses and sofas on the sidewalk, but the young couple had time to climb upstairs before the water came.
“We’re now waiting for the power to come back to give it a deep clean,” said Hawkins.
“We can’t really stay in at the moment, the smell is just too bad.”
‘Dry up and clean up’
Sheltered from the rain by the porch of the imposing family home, Laurie Eudy, the fourth generation to occupy the premises, takes time to update her journal.
“There’s a lot to write about,” she says.
An entry in her neat handwriting reads: “That was an adventure!”
She heard “a loud bump” in the middle of the night when the waters of the Neuse River swept up the street: “I first thought it was a tree, but when I opened the door, I saw a boat knocking at the front of the house.”
Her husband and brother-in-law donned life jackets to wade into the water and repel it.
The house is elevated and was largely spared damage, but Eudy fears they may be without electricity “for two weeks at least.”
A few blocks away, in the same wealthy waterfront neighborhood, a huge metal fan powered by a generator turns in the colonial house of Bill Ward’s parents.
“It was built in 1772,” he announces proudly. “And as far as we know, it had never been flooded before.”
The storm surge caused by Hurricane Florence withdrew from New Bern almost as fast as it arrived, and despite the rain that continued on Saturday, the lawyer believes that the worst is over.
“We are now in the dry up and clean up stage,” he said.