Chronicles of Hurricane Floyd
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This is a chronicle of events recorded during
the devastating flooding from Hurricane Floyd that occurred September 16, 1999.
Most pictures in this section depict the Candlewood neighborhood of Rocky Mount, North Carolina that backs up to the usually tame Stony Creek, which flows into the Tar River.
Martha W. Daniel
The Beginning of
7 AM in the morning, Thursday, September 16, 1999
Stony Creek crossing the Corner of Candlewood and Steeplechase Roads
I really think most of us woke up to think we had possibly escaped the worst....
a lot of rain, but not as much wind from the dangerous Hurricane Floyd as we had feared. However, Stony creek had jumped its banks and crossed the road at the "bottom of Candlewood at Steeplechase"....and beginning to creep into basements. How little did we know that from this point on the creek would quickly rise 25 feet and we would witness such devastation from this flooding........
8:30 AM Inside the Baggett House trying to decide what to do.
All the families living on the creek side of Candlewood awoke to an alarmingly
high Creek, already in garages and bottom floors.......At this point we really thought
all we might have to do was put furniture up on counter tops or chairs.
The creek couldn't possibly continue to rise at that rate.
But Mary's distraught expression is one of shock to see how rapidly the water WAS rising.
We simply just started to react by grabbing things and taking them outside to higher ground..
Neighbors pitched in and worked throughout the morning in the rain,
even as trees continued to fall over from wind gusts and ground too wet to hold them.
About 9:30 AM, at the Strandbergs
Water rising about 5 inches every twenty minutes.
Neighbors began to help Howard and Sharon take things from their house
and store them in the Daniel's garage and homes of other neighbors.
Lori Hall and Betsy Strandberg in foreground, Howard Strandberg coming out the door.
Don Williams and Fred Dunstan, as well as many others whose homes were not flooding,
pitched in by moving furniture across the street to higher ground and into garages
It was incredible how EVERYONE just pitched in to do whatever was needed.
Lori and Michael Hall pitch in.....everyone was involved in
helping salvage things from their neighbors homes and moving to higher ground.
At any moment we thought the water would begin to recede.
We had no idea of the devastation that was still to come.
Baggetts about noon.
The basement bedrooms and garage full of cars was already flooding by the time they had awakened. A decision was made to try to begin taking things out.
The water continued here at the Baggetts to 20" up the walls inside.
The piano getting ready to come out the door, was lifted by teenage heroes in chest deep water.
A lot of furniture was moved out of the main floor into the homes of friends and into their attic.
Nancy Thorpe, Bill Eskridge & Neil Nelson portage a kayak to a neighbor's house
Any means of getting items out of homes was used.
Corner of Candlewood & Steeplechase about 2:00 PM
An unbelievable sight! It got even higher than this!
View of second block of Candlewood Road looking towards the entrance.
Water shown here was about as high as it got. We were not able to drive off this
one block "island" for 2 days.
The main entrance of Candlewood..... was not only blocked by the
flooded creek, but also by trees at Molly and Theo Pitts' house
Molly and Theo's house got another hit from trees and severe flooding.
Hurricane Fran caught them three years ago, too.
Sue and Ben Moore's home on Steeplechase got the
biggest hit from the trees, but were fortunate not to be near the creek.
Lindy Dunn, watches Stony Creek wash into the upper level of his home
Waiting it out
Strandbergs. Water continued up to second pane of front windows
About 3PM. Stony Creek continues to flood Candlewood Rd
near the Daniel's house at 132 Candlewood
The Balls' House shown on the left was one of first to be inundated.
Lucas Martinez and Strandberg dog helped Don Ball, Glenna and their little dog
make the final exit to ride out the rest of the day with the Halls.
Randy Vann and friend stand in shock as the water flows in.
Nothing else could be done at this point
John Vann "wading" it out from home. Neighbors on the creekside
stayed with neighbors across the street for nearly a week....at first because it was not
possible travel out due to the high water, but it took a while for everyone to arrange for other
living quarters......apartments, rental houses., etc.
Wardlaw Lamar Residence at 169 Candlewood
Currents so strong and water rising so quickly kept them from getting any
furniture and very few personal items before it filled the main living area 5 feet deep.
Candlewood Road....about 10 feet deep
This view of Candlewood is taken at corner of Candle Court
Wardlaw Lamar and Carl Purvis prepare to attempt a crossing into the Lamar house.
Unfortunately, the water was too dangerous and deep to cross the fast water close to the house.
The flooding marooned all the residents living on the Candlewood/Steeplechase
"island" for more than 48 hours.
Thorp Residence on Candlewood
McGagin Residence on Candlewood Rd.
Across the Creek from Candlewood
Truly heartbreaking for the Weeks/Daniel family to finally get to our family cabin.
Nearly 50 years of wonderful memories for 4 generations on Stony Creek
at our "getaway" spot for parties, picnics and especially July 4th.
However, we were so fortunate this was not our home...as so many people lost
their livelihoods, homes, livestock, crops and their futures. It will take more
than a generation to recover from this extraordinary and tragic flood.
Swept 20 feet off and away from brick column foundations,
the fireplace and chimney broke up as well as the decks and
water took its toll on inside contents while it was completely underwater for 2 days.
We were not able to reach it by car for 3 days.
Note skinned beech tree shows how far up (16 ft) the broken deck
floated up and down around the tree
Built by my family in 1953, we had experienced flooding into the cabin only once
(3" inside in 1987). Never in our wildest dreams did we think we would ever
experience a flood of such devastating proportions.
(after being uprighted)
We climbed in where the fireplace used to be.
All contents ruined except a few mementos. Everyone asked about Elvis.
The O'Berry's home was next to our cabin on Stony Creek. Only steps, foundation and shrubbery
were left intact. Their two story house was completely swept off the foundation and washed away at a
90 degree angle and 45 degree pitch. They made a very narrow escape with their 2 year old daughter.
Same house shown below two days later after water subsided.
Part of the O'Berry House was left hanging in Stony Creek 16 months later.
Below is typical of the damage flooding can do. Note mildew on cabinets
See FEMA buyout
Cleaning Up and Recovery
Contents of first level in all Candlewood homes on the creek are unrecoverable,
and with as much as 5 feet of water in the second level, left very few items were redeemable.
All had to be pulled outside as quickly as possible as soon as the water subsided.
Nearly everyone had put cars in garage to protect from falling trees...
never thinking it would be WATER that would get them!
Carpeting, flooring, wallboards, ductwork...etc. had to be ripped out of
flooded homes for replacing, then treated for mold, mildew and disenfected.
This is the Lamars dining room.
This boat belonging to the Lamars ended up two houses away wedged between
two trees in the McCotters back yard. 3 trees will need to be removed to retrieve the boat.
Friends and neighbors came to the aid of flood victims in droves
Very few of the creekside residents had flood insurance
Week two: 121 Candlewood at the Astins.... just a few of the reeking,
soggy items filling the streets, not only here, but all over town..
Week 2: Most of Molly and Theo Pitt's belongings are now on the street
3 additional days of rain and flash flood warnings made everything even more depressing.
Seeing personal belonging piled in sodden heaps along the streets all over town for
several weeks was heartbreaking. Very few items can be recovered from a flood.
Storage units all over town were flooded; all contents ruined and piled on the streets
The "Durham Rescue Team" came to the aid of Susan Lamar to lend a hand with
the cleaning and to bring good cheer. Many were her college classmates.
The Lamars moved back into their renovated home before Christmas 2000
These friends from Durham had no idea how terrible the flood damage
could be, even though they had been heavily hit by Hurricane Fran 3 years ago.
Three weeks after the flood at the Strandberg house with debris from
inside. Entire inside on both floors stripped down to the studs, still drying out.
After disinfecting the wood, the sheetrock, flooring, etc. will be replaced.
It is wishful thinking to hope to be back home by Christmas.
Note: January 2001, 16 months later, the Strandbergs still do not know
whether their home, which was over 50% flooded, will be part of the FEMA buyout.
Their home sits empty and derelict.
The Baggetts house 4 weeks later as sodden drywall, carpeting, flooring
was being "pulled out". With over 50% of their house having flooded, it is questionable
that they will want to.....or be allowed to build back.
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