Hurricane Florence: Stories from the storm

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A look at how local residents and emergency management officials fared during the storm.

Grocery stores offer glimmer of hope

OGDEN — Monday morning the Ogden Publix looked like the hottest nightclub in town, with a line down the sidewalk and police letting people in a few at a time.

After four days of eating hurricane supplies, Claudia Bradish was excited to get whatever cut of meat she could find.

“I never want to eat peanut butter and jelly again,” she said.

Lawrence and Meghan Moorman stood chatting with Bradish in line. The couple and their children weathered Hurricane Florence in their Ogden home with Lawrence’s parents, whop evacuated from Oriental.

“They definitely are a little bit stuck, because Wilmington is an island now,” Meghan said.

Florence’s worst came to the Moormans’ neighborhood Saturday, when they say a pair of tornadoes was reported overnight. No one was hurt, but rising water the next day left everyone holding their holding breath. At one point, Lawrence ran into the yard to dig trenches to keep the water back from the house.

“It sucked,” Meghan said. “I would say that Saturday was worse than the actual hurricane, because that’s when the sheets of rain came.”

Like many others in Wilmington, the group was most worried about looting in the wake of the storm. Bradish, who works at a Food Lion, said the day before the hurricane hit, a man tried to walk out of the store with his pants stuffed with stolen meat.

While Bradish’s power came back Sunday, the Moorman family was still in the dark. They were hoping to pick up something grill-able Monday after finishing off the last of the hot dogs Sunday, a meal Meghan said rivaled any restaurant’s.

“I will remember that hot dog for the rest of my life,” she said.

— Cammie Bellamy

College Road business keeps eye out for looters

WILMINGTON — Between pitch black, whistling wind and the threat of looters, Sunday night was tense for Rooted Kava Lounge owner Coley Oh.

Oh and other employees slept — or tried to sleep — at the South College Road business last night to keep it safe, and make room for storm evacuees at their homes.

“My boyfriend’s family lost their home out in Leland; I think it was probably a tornado, but their roof came off,” Oh said. “I have a generator (at my house), and that’s certainly better than no roof and no power.”

Earlier this week, Oh posted a Facebook video describing how looters have targeted several of her neighbor businesses in University Landing shopping center. Glass was shattered on a few doors there Monday.

“I’m not playing with them,” she said. “What they’ve been doing is kicking in the bottom of the doors so when the police ride by, you can’t hardly tell that it’s been looted.”

Oh owns two other properties in town, including a recording studio, and said she was planning to open them up to people whose homes have been destroyed. She worries how locals will start their recovery process if they’re unable to get to work and earn wages.

“This homeless situation is going to be crazy — I have no idea how FEMA is going to come in here and help,” she said. “And nobody can afford these couple of weeks off.”

But she noted that Rooted Kava Lounge is open to anyone (18 and up) in need of a friendly word, cup of coffee or place to chill. They’re asking that patrons spend at least a dollar at the business Monday to support staff.

“I feel overwhelmed, but also overwhelmingly positive,” she said. “Absolutely everyone is welcomed here always.”

— Cammie Bellamy

Hoping to get back

Jimmy Fletcher has ridden out every hurricane during his 15 years living in Shallotte.

Except this one.

“We’ve never really left. We’ve stayed for all of them actually. And we’ve always stayed in our house,” Fletcher said. “This one kind of scared me so we decided to head to the mountains”

As warnings of what could be coming spread through Southeastern North Carolina, Fletcher and his wife, Lyn, left to spend a few day with his family and a few with hers in the Blue Ridge.

Neighbors and friends have been keeping them up-to-date on the how the town fared. They’ve been told the damage is minimal, with businesses reopening in town.

The problem isn’t what awaits them at home, it’s the path getting there.

Major flooding on the main thoroughfares that lead back to Shallotte will create a complicated path from the foothills back to the beach. Fletcher isn’t even sure if he’ll be able to reach Shallotte on Monday, even if he navigates backroads.

“I don’t know if we’ll make it or not,” Fletcher said.

Just doing their jobs

Oreos, Chips Ahoy and a large supply of non-perishable foods are keeping the Sloop Point Volunteer Fire Department going just like everyone else. Their kitchen was full of hurricane snacks Monday morning as a firefighter team sizzled bacon on the stove ahead of another long day.

Fire lieutenant Justin Paye said Monday marks day six of storm duty, because the firefighters were out all day last Wednesday warning those in low-lying areas to evacuate.

“We’re fortunate to have power here so we are just ready to go out and help others that are not as fortunate and need our help,” said Paye.

During the storm, Paye said, getting access to people was the most difficult part of the job and firefighters have spent the past few days with chainsaws in hand and checking on homes where there was flash flooding.

“It’s just the job,” Paye said.

— Ashley Morris

Taking things in stride

OGDEN — As Duke Energy trucks rolled down Middle Sound Loop Road Monday, Drew Massey was one of a handful of people picking up his yard. Though his wife and kids would likely be stuck in Washington, D.C., for a couple more days, Massey counted himself lucky that he had weathered the storm so well.

“The house fared pretty well, just a couple of leaks,” said Massey, waving at every car that passed. “This neighborhood’s OK. We don’t have power, but who does, you know?”

— Cammie Bellamy

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