Many still suffering two years after Hurricane Florence

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Julie Zingone’s belongings sat on the curb for months. (photo: Peyton Furtado)

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — On September 13, 2018, Hurricane Florence swept through Southeastern North Carolina, leaving behind a trail of devastation and loss.

That was two years ago, and Julie Zingone, a single mom to two boys, says some parts of the community still haven’t recovered.

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“A lot of people it’s like, out of sight out of mind,” states Zingone. “They don’t see it, so they don’t think about it. But there still are quite a few people that are affected, you know, that are not back in their homes.”

Zingone says after they evacuated, her house filled with five and a half feet of water, drowning personal belongings, electrical outlets, and light switches. When they finally returned, Zingone says her home looked like Jumanji, and both her house and her family were powerless.

“They’re saying water probably stayed in there at least two weeks…up pretty high. So when we came back, we saw every possible color of mold,” Zingone says.

The home they built was not unliveable. After living in a FEMA trailer for 18 months, they moved eight different times. Zingone says it took a real toll on her youngest son:

“You need to try to stay positive and notice what kids are going through. Because my little guy ended up being suicidal. And at eight years old, he had just turned nine. It was quite, quite the ordeal for him to realize that everything that he had was gone.”

The house sits on a 100 year flood plain near Holly Shelter Creek, which means every flood in the area has a one in 100 chance of reoccurring at an equal or worse strength every year. She says that’s why it’s taken so long for her house to be rebuilt; her insurance didn’t want to take that kind of chance. But by moving away, Zingone says they’d lose even more.

“Yes it’s just material things that you lose, but not only do you lose the material things, but there are things that there are memories that you lose,” Zingone notes. “That’s one of the reasons that I wanted to come back here. Because of all the memories.”

In January, the North Carolina Baptist Men started helping the family rebuild. Zingone says they’ve written Bible verses on every wall under the paint, literally covering their new home in prayer.

“God always promises that after every storm, there’s a rainbow. and that’s what we keep talking about. So we’re seeing the rainbow coming soon.”

And with any luck, Zingone hopes to see that rainbow by Christmas.