Neighbors stay calm in storm's wake
By Michael Abramowitz
The Daily Reflector
Sunday, September 16, 2018
GRIFTON — Pitt County residents who stuck around for Hurricane Florence began to recoup their lives and clean up around their homes Saturday, thankful the storm did not cause them great harm.
A few who live near waterways known to flood in storms, meanwhile, stayed away another day awaiting clearance to return.
On Queen Street in Grifton, neighbors Christy Ennis, April Moore and Alisa Gilliam, gathered on Ennis’ porch and watched Ennis’ husband, Derek, pump water from under their house as they waited for power to be restored to their neighborhood.
“The storm wasn’t too bad here,” Ennis said. “It just rained and rained and rained some more. We lost power before the storm reached us, about 5 p.m. Thursday. We don’t know what will happen next, but we’re just waiting patiently. We’ve got breakfast from Hardee’s, coffee and company. We’re good.”
Moore said she can weather the storm because she has good neighbors who take care of her.
“My neighbors are good therapy, and they have a generator to keep my perishables in,” she said. “Honestly, I’d go crazy without my friends around.”
Chicod Creek near Grimesland also had flooded its banks Friday, forcing evacuations at two mobile home parks close by.
Randy Hoggard, 68, remained at his mobile home on Willow Lane off of N.C. 33, about 75 yards from Chicod Creek. The run-over was at his backyard, but had begun to subside a bit, so he stayed put despite calls from his daughter who wanted him to leave.
“In (Hurricane) Matthew, the waters came at us from two sides,” Hoggard said Saturday. “It’s not as bad this time. I’m more worried about my neighbor, Ricky Lee, who lives about 100 yards back further back in the woods. His place is surrounded and you can’t get to it.”
In another park across N.C. 33, most mobile homes on low-lying Paul Place had been evacuated, also flooded by Chicod Creek. On the higher end of the park, Darry Outlaw, 58, was a bit more safely situated, although he had concerns about the creek waters being hidden by thick brush that grew within 10 feet of the back end of his trailer.
“I live higher, but don’t feel much safer,” Outlaw said. “I went to stay with my brother in Greenville when the storm started, but came back today. If the rivers crest next week, I’ll be back at my brother’s.”
At the American Red Cross shelter at Ayden Middle School, one of five opened Thursday at Pitt County middle schools, coordinator Kevin Krisher of Pitt County Emergency Management said the situation was stable Saturday. The shelter occupancy peaked Friday with about 200 people, he said.
“Things have been going pretty well and we’re slowly drawing down the number of people here,” Krisher said. “Everybody’s been really cooperative and we’ve all worked together. Some people left and others found they had to come back when they checked on their homes. We’ve had plenty of food and water and comfortable bedding for everybody.”
Grifton neighbors Allen Williams and Sandra Edmonds found themselves in good company at the Ayden shelter. Edmonds arrived Thursday morning and Williams checked in a day later. Their homes were without power Saturday.
“Things are going real good, they treat us nice,” she said. “We’ve had plenty of food to eat. Our street is blocked off and there’s no power at home.”
“I live on Water Street, beside Contentnea Creek,” Williams said. “They gave me an evacuation order yesterday, so I had to leave home. They said they couldn’t get to me if it flooded.”
Edmonds said she still is awaiting a final FEMA evaluation of her Water Street home after it was flooded two years ago by Hurricane Matthew.
Saturday afternoon the five shelters had a combined occupancy of about 180, down from a peak of about 900 on Friday night, Pitt County spokesman Mike Emory said.
The county will close the school sites at 3 p.m. Sunday to allow classes to resume in Pitt County Schools. It will open new shelter sites at Holly Hill Life Changing Center, 755 Porter Road in Belvoir, and Landmark Baptist Church, 4657 U.S. 13, southwest of Greenville.
Emory said shelter sites do not accept donations. Anyone wishing to aid recovery efforts should contact one of the verified donation collection centers through the Disaster Recovery Partner Network for Pitt County (DRP), which are listed at www.PittCountyNC.gov/FLORENCE and www.PittCountyNC.gov/Huracane.
The shelters will be provisioned utilizing community partners identified through the Community Shelter Program, a joint program between Pitt County Emergency Management and the Red Cross that secures voluntary partnerships with faith-based organization.
There are presently 17 Community Shelter Program partners identified, but interest from other organizations to participate is always welcome, Emory said. For more information on how to join the Community Shelter Partner program, contact Pitt County Emergency Management at 252-902-3950.
Contact Michael Abramowitz at firstname.lastname@example.org or 252-329-9507.