Amid the storm debris, workers help widow find her husband's ashes

Amid the storm debris, workers help widow find her husband's ashes

LELAND, NC (WECT) - Flood water is beginning to recede in some communities that were inundated after Hurricane Florence.

In the Stoney Creek Plantation subdivision, more than six-feet of flood water swamped two dozen homes over the weekend. Wednesday, residents got their first look inside their sodden homes.

"I've lost my life, all my memories, everything is gone," said Vicky Zelenka, who has lived in her home for 15-years.

"Pictures can never be replaced," Zelenka said. "All my memories are gone, all my memories. My husband passed away one year ago from the day of the hurricane and I feel like my life is gone."

Zelenka moved to the neighborhood from Pennsylvania in 2005 and at the time a surveyor told her the house was in the 100-year flood plain.

"Here I come down here, thinking sunshine, happiness, and this happens," Zelenka said. "I realize this was extreme circumstances, but not to this extent, not to wipe out this entire community."

On Monday her neighbor, Tom Meyer, could only watch as his home sat under water.

"[Tom] called me, he's crying because his truck, his daughter's car is here. They're both gone, the whole bottom of his house is gone, and he doesn't have flood insurance. What do we do? What do people like us do?"

Searching through her home, Zelenka just wanted to find one memory of her late-husband, anything to hold onto. But the unforgiving flood water made that prospect seem impossible.

"My husband's photographs, even his death certificate, they're gone. I can't even find his death certificate, his ashes are in there somewhere," Zelenka said.

While it seemed all hope was gone a handful of contractors helping with mitigation at her home were determined to help. As their eyes welled with tears they searched through the muck and found the urn, quickly returning it to Zelenka.

She was overwhelmed, but grateful to have the urn back in her possession, however soaked it might be. Just one piece, one memory, for a woman broken by the storm.

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