Hampstead woman loses home in Florence, surprised with help 10 months later

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Church members from Detroit helped rebuild a woman’s home in Hampstead. (Photo: Kylie Jones/WWAY)

HAMPSTEAD, NC (WWAY) — It’s been almost 10 months since Hurricane Florence tore apart homes throughout our area.

As the storms come and go, this one hit home for 89-year-old Jeannine Smith. Smith had to gut most of her Hampstead home.

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With the help of some visitors, 10 months later she says she is finally starting to see that light at the end of the tunnel.

“I feel like I’m moving back into a new house,” Smith said. “They have been a Godsend.”

Smith returned to her home days after Florence made landfall and saw it had flooded from top to bottom. She was bent, but not broken.

“But still, I have a roof over my head, and so many people didn’t,” she said.

Smith spent 10 months confined to two rooms. She says just about her whole house had to be gutted.

“The whole house was just flooded, and all the water had seeped down through the ceiling, the walls, the flooring,” Smith said.

Then came a light at the end of the tunnel all the way from Michigan.

“We all know that any time something can happen to us, or it happens to other people,” Michigan Pastor Paul Thwaite said. “We were talking this morning in our devotional time before we started about coming alongside one another, and standing with people that have been through really difficult times.”

With the help of a Topsail church, Thwaite and his congregation from Detroit are rebuilding Smith’s home from the ground up.

“We get so much more out of it than we feel we are able to contribute,” he said. “We meet somebody like Jeannine and you begin to hear her story. It’s just such a blessing.”

Smith shares a lesson she could teach us all.

“I don’t know,” she said. “I think just living one day at a time. You accept what comes your way and make the best of it.”

But in the end, the blessing is all hers.

“Well God’s been good to me,” Smith said.

Thwaite says this is the second of three homes they are rebuilding in Pender County in just one short week.

Smith says if it weren’t for this group, she doesn’t think her home would ever get rebuilt.