PENDER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Ten years ago, residents were preparing for what would become the worst natural disaster to hit eastern North Carolina.
Hurricane Floyd made landfall along the Brunswick County coastline September 16, 1999. The storm left the area with extensive damage to the coastline and then dumped over 20 inches of rain in the coastal plains of the state.
The rain caused widespread flooding over a period of several weeks. Nearly every river basin in the eastern part of the state exceeded 500 year flood levels.
The National Guard performed nearly 1,700 fresh water rescues of people trapped on the roofs of their homes because of the rapid rise of water.
Former County Commissioner Steve Holland owned a restaurant that suffered extensive damage. He says he will always remember the damage from Floyd.
"The only thing we saved was the roof and the outside walls," said Holland. "We had to completely gut it. We were closed for 5 1/2 month. The water was 5 1/2 feet deep were are standing at right now, so it just about cleaned everything out."
A decade has come and gone, but Pender County resident Annie Powell said it feels like yesterday. She remembers the storm came quickly and caught her off guard. She recalls how quickly the water rose and said it was coming in like waves.
For Annie, it is still hard to tell the story. Floyd terrified her because she can't swim and didn't have a boat. Annie was able to escape the waters, but was forced into a shelter for several weeks when flood waters rose to her rooftop.
She knew when she returned to her home on Whitestocking Road nothing would ever be the same - and ten years later it never has. The floors were destroyed and the walls turned to mush.
"The water stayed so long the inspector said we couldn't salvage anything," said Annie.
Volunteers helped Annie re-build her home, and while much has changed over the past decade, the memories run deeper than the flood waters did back then.
Floyd impacted a lot of people and left several with vivid memories. Sherwood Hamilton II shared a memory with WECT on Facebook:
Back then I worked at a road construction sign shop. I remember being called in to deliver road barricades all over eastern N.C. I was amazed by all the water even 120 miles inland.
In honor of the storm Governor Bev Perdue named September as Emergency Preparedness Month.
The governor is reminding families to take steps to prepare in case another strong storm heads our way. Everyone should have an emergency plan and kit.
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