Flooding Forces Families to Flee

Shelter Population in Tar Heel State Doubles in a Day

Rising water levels in the wake of Hurricane Matthew continue to create dangerous conditions for many residents of North Carolina, prompting thousands to take refuge in more than 60 shelters throughout the state.  About 3,600 people spent the night in a shelter on Monday, double the number from Sunday night.

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Jeffrey Davenport

Jeffrey Davenport and his mother Michelle were among those to arrive Monday at the shelter in Whiteville, at Edgewood Elementary School. Their house flooded over the weekend, but they stayed in the loft, figuring the water would recede after a day or two.

It didn’t happen. The water just kept rising.

“We didn’t think the water was going to rise so high,” Jeffrey explained. “It came up to the fifth stair.”  He and his mom went to the shelter Monday after walking through chest-deep water to get to National Guard rescuers. They were among about 75 people in the shelter Monday night.

Jared Worthington is Principal of Edgewood Elementary, and was working right along with Red Cross staff to make sure everyone had dry clothes, a cot and a meal.

“We’ve had people come in here who have nothing-no power, no water, and they are still asking ‘what can we give?’”

He says businesses have pitched in to provide food and clothing.  And teachers at the school have been responding to his texts, coming up with portable heaters for people like the Davenports, who arrived soaking wet.

Mr. Worthington said it’s truly a community effort; even firefighters and police officers are pitching in, with one officer cooking breakfast Monday morning.

“If you had been here, you’d have had the best eggs and grits you ever had!”

His upbeat attitude belies the serious nature of rising water.  The Red Cross helps people prepare for, respond to, and recover from flooding.  Visit the Flood Safety page on the Red Cross website for a comprehensive list of safety and preparedness information, and follow the below instructions if you are impacted by severe flooding:

  • Listen to area radio and television stations and a NOAA Weather Radio for possible flood warnings and reports of flooding in progress or other critical information from the National Weather Service (NWS)
  • When a flood or flash flood warning is issued for your area, head for higher ground and stay there.
  • Stay away from floodwaters. If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankles, stop, turn around and go another way. Six inches of swiftly moving water can sweep you off of your feet.
  • If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.
  • Keep children out of the water. They are curious and often lack judgment about running water or contaminated water.
  • Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood danger.

You can also stay informed by downloading the free Red Cross Emergency App, which puts real time information and hurricane safety tips as your fingertips. The Emergency App is available in app stores by searching for the American Red Cross, texting GETEMERGENCY to 90999 or going to redcross.org/apps.

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