A look at Columbus County 5 years following Hurricane Florence

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COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Five years following Hurricane Florence, we spoke with a Whiteville City official who shared his memories of the unforgiving storm. 

“We were hoping for a fast-moving storm. But it was a slow-moving storm and it devastated our community and other communities in Columbus County. A devastation that we hadn’t seen in a long time,” Emergency Services Director, Hal Lowder, said. 

The historic storm dumped nearly 23 inches of rain in Whiteville leaving some downtown businesses under four feet of water.  

The Crusoe community saw 116 Coast Guard floodwater rescues. Boats and docks broke loose along the shoreline in Lake Waccamaw. 

We spoke with Whiteville Emergency Services Director, Hal Lowder. He said he still feels the ripple from the massive storm. His home is one of many still not completely repaired. 

Lowder said the city of Whiteville is taking steps to make sure it can better withstand storms like Florence. He said conversations between the city, its citizens, and flood prevention agencies are happening. 

“It’s a community, it’s a big effort. The whole state, the whole region has to figure out how we manage water and where it’s gonna go. Because you’re not gonna stop it,” Lowder said. 

We also spoke with North Carolina National Guard Soldier, Charlie Noble, who was sent to offer aid in another hard-hit area in Columbus County, Fair Bluff.  

“That was getting senior citizens out, medical patients, working to get people out of their homes and businesses that were flooded,” NC National Guard 30th Brigade Personnel Officer, Charlie Noble, said.  

Noble said it was even more so devastating seeing the town and knowing that these folks were just getting back on their feet following Hurricane Matthew.  

“You don’t have a lot of time to focus on that kinda stuff,” Noble said. You have to keep it in the back of your mind because it’s definitely part of it. You realize these are people, their homes, their businesses, their lives and it’s not just you helping them  — it’s you helping everything that they have.” 

There are other folks in the county still feeling the impact Florence and worsened by recent tropical storms such as Idalia. 

Lowder said the community have and always will weather the storm together.