Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

'I cry and pray': Keeping vigil amid North Carolina floods

GREENVILLE, N.C. — Anita Van Beveren has been returning day after day to watch the brown floodwater creep toward the rental home she shares with her two teenage children. While she got many belongings out, they couldn't move everything — a bicycle is chained to a back deck surrounded by water.

"I cry and pray. There's nothing else to do," said Van Beveren, who is staying with friends. "We keep coming up here every hour. And every hour it's worse."

Many neighbors are keeping similar vigils on Van Beveren's side of Willow Street, which runs parallel to the Tar River and has largely served as a boundary between those who evacuated and those who stayed. The leafy neighborhood — one of many around North Carolina to suffer flooding after Hurricane Matthew — includes one-story homes and small apartment buildings that house a mix of families and students from nearby East Carolina University.

North of Willow, houses and apartments were filling up with water even before the river was expected to crest Thursday. The flooding triggered by heavy rain from Matthew — which killed more than 500 people in Haiti — has left at least 35 dead in the U.S.

South of the street — and uphill from the river — homeowners expect their houses to be dry, and most stayed despite a mandatory evacuation.

"People that are staying are pretty comfortable because a lot of us were here for Floyd, and we know what's coming," said John Benson. He lives on a street that crosses Willow just uphill from a Dead End sign that marked the edge of the floodwaters from Hurricane Floyd in 1999. The Tar River isn't expected to get as high this time.

Joe Davis owns houses on another street that crosses Willow, including a rental property where waist-deep water lapped at the foundation Wednesday.

He watched a worker use duct tape and sheets of plastic to seal crawl space vents after placing sandbags at the doors.

"This is my first time doing this, so we'll see how this works," said Davis, who bought the rental house several months ago.

Wearing duck-hunting waders, Andrew Brauns strode through the murky water after working on Davis' rental house. He does maintenance for several property owners and said he put in several 15-hour days this week.

"These are going to be our two worst houses actually," he said, pointing to the rental house and one across the street. "So we've really been trying to keep the water out. Under the houses, it can wash a bunch of the foundations away."

Two tenants of another house surrounded by several feet of water — Carolyn Raby and Nicole Beauchene — walked up to survey the scene at the end of the street that dead ends near the river. They said their landlord has been letting them stay in another house he owns, but the ordeal has fried their nerves.

"I haven't slept. I don't eat. The only normal thing I have is work and that's sad when work's your only normal thing to do," said Beauchene, who works at the sandwich shop Jimmy John's.

Caitlyn Cain, left, and friend Sidney Daniels inspect flooding after Hurricane Matthew near Cain's old home on Wednesday in Greenville, N.C. [Associated Press]

Caitlyn Cain, left, and friend Sidney Daniels inspect flooding after Hurricane Matthew near Cain's old home on Wednesday in Greenville, N.C. [Associated Press]

'I cry and pray': Keeping vigil amid North Carolina floods 10/13/16 [Last modified: Thursday, October 13, 2016 8:39am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tropics watch: The latest on Harvey and what systems could hit Florida

    Weather

    While Eastern and Central America monitor the progress of Tropical Storm Harvey, two tropical disturbances are moving through the Atlantic.

  2. Roberto Aguayo, Jonathan Drouin, Tim Beckham are coming for revenge

    Bucs

    Forget the Three Tenors.

    Make it the Three Terrors.

    The 2017 Unfulfilled Expectations Tour is about to hit Tampa Bay.

    From left, former Bucs kicker Roberto Aguayo, ex-Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin and former Rays infielder Tim Beckham. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times; DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times; Getty Images]
  3. Carlton: A moment of sanity when citizens finally said no

    Courts

    If you were looking for some small sign of sanity in the world, here's one courtesy of the people of Tampa and Hillsborough County.

    The Confederate memorial statue outside the old Hillsborough courthouse is now boxed up in plywood to prevent vandalism. Private donors have ponied up money to have the statue relocated to a cemetery. [JIM DAMASKE  |  Times]
  4. Review: Jason Aldean fires up a country-dude party at Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre

    Blogs

    Country music has a dude problem.

    I’m not talking about the proliferation of mindless bro country over the past half-decade, nor am I referring to the fact that most of Nashville’s best music these days comes not from said bros, from female singers and songwriters.

    Jason Aldean performed at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa on Aug. 18, 2018.