PENDER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - We first met Kristen Johnson in October 2016 after Hurricane Matthew destroyed her home on Canetuck Road, leaving more than four feet of water inside and ruining everything she worked for her whole life. The water was inside the home for 14 days.
WECT has followed Johnson’s journey of heartache, perseverance and rebuilding after Matthew. With the help of the N.C. Baptist Men, Johnson’s house was gutted and raised eight feet high in May 2017 to avoid a future flood.
“We thought that it would defeat Mother Nature, so when we heard (Hurricane) Florence was coming, we didn’t evacuate because we were sure the floodwaters wouldn’t rise into our newly rebuilt home,” said Johnson.
However, as the Black River started rising after Florence, Johnson and her family were forced out again. Rescue crews gave them 15 minutes to leave as the waters rose.
To add insult to injury, Johnson was less than a week from moving into her newly refurbished home when Florence hit.
“We lost an entire house of furniture, brand new dining room set, living room set, brand new cabinets just put in, custom cabinets, everything we had just replaced,” she said.
Luckily, Johnson bought flood insurance and it kicked in on Sept. 8, days before Florence hit.
“I had full insurance this time through Farm Bureau," Johnson said. "They paid out three weeks after the storm and we jumped right in on the house, tore out everything that needed to be tore out.”
Since October, the Johnsons and the N.C. Baptist Men have been putting their blood, sweat and tears into this latest rebuild.
“We are so excited to get back in again. We have not had a Christmas in this house since 2015,” said Johnson. “I’ve had no decorations and I’m the type of person that decorates the day after Thanksgiving.”
Even though her family has been served with a double whammy, Johnson, who ironically was baptized in the Black River that has destroyed her home twice, stays positive and said she believes everything happens for a reason.
“I put everything in the Lord’s hands," Johnson said. "This happened for a reason. I have a strong faith and God only hands out what you can deal with.”
The Johnson family plans to move back into her home on Saturday.