At one point, Hope Lockman wasn’t going to return to her hometown of Brownstown.
Hurricane Florence hadn’t impacted where she lives now in Jacksonville, North Carolina, and she was told the area hadn’t been majorly impacted by a hurricane since 1956.
Those people, however, had no idea what was coming.
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Lockman said a lower area of the Webb Apartments complex where she lives has been flooded by a nearby river before, but it had never reached her apartment.
It’s a good thing she left Sept. 12 because her apartment wound up 4 feet underwater.
A live news report from there Saturday showed all of the apartment buildings with floodwater up to the windows and halfway up the front doors. There also were people in boats rescuing people from the apartment complex. They were on nearby Piney Green Road, which looked more like a river.
“When I saw the floodwater, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, what am I going to do?’ My apartment legitimately is ruined,” Lockman said Monday. “Out of the whole town, to my knowledge, that’s the only apartment complex that went underwater. When I come back, I won’t have an apartment to stay at. I’m going to try to figure out where I’m going to stay at or what exactly I am going to do.”
Lockman, a 2012 Brownstown Central High School graduate, said she has lived in Jacksonville since 2013. She served with the U.S. Marine Corps for two and a half years at nearby Camp Lejeune.
She now works for a moving company and had only lived at Webb Apartments for three months.
Her brother, Brandon Lockman, drove from Indiana to North Carolina on Sept. 12 to pick her up. She planned to stay in Brownstown with her parents until Wednesday and then try to get back to her apartment to assess the damage.
She said she has a feeling there won’t be much to salvage. On top of that, she doesn’t have renter’s insurance.
“I already know that most of my stuff is probably going to be gone because when I think about 4 feet of water about waist deep, that’s a lot of stuff,” she said.
Temporarily, she plans to stay at a friend’s house. Hope said her friend had planned to stay in her house, but search and rescue personnel made them evacuate Sunday because the floodwaters were getting so high.
“They said it was going to be dangerous and bad, but they probably didn’t expect it to be this bad,” Hope said.
Now, Hope is looking into other apartment complexes for her and her nearly 2-year-old son to live.
“Right now, it’s up in the air,” she said. “I’m just taking it day by day.”
Hurricane Florence didn’t make landfall until Friday, and by that time, it had been downgraded from a Category 4 hurricane to a Category 1.
Before Florence hit the coast of North Carolina, Hope said Jacksonville was experiencing high winds and some rain. Jacksonville is about 15 miles inland.
Lockman said the wind was so strong that it ripped shingles off of the roof of her apartment building, and water started leaking into her apartment.
Rain continued in the area, leading to two major highways being flooded.
Statewide, Gov. Roy Cooper said 16 rivers were at major flood stage and more than 1,100 roads were closed, according to The Associated Press. Emergency workers reported rescuing and evacuating more than 2,200 people and around 575 animals, Cooper said.
On Tuesday, the death toll rose to at least 37 in three states, including 27 fatalities in North Carolina, as Florence’s remnants went in two directions: Water flowed downstream toward the Carolina coast, and storms raced through the Northeast and into the Atlantic, The AP reported.
After submerging North Carolina with nearly 3 feet of rain, the storm dumped more than 6.5 inches of rain in the Northeast, where it caused flash flooding, wind damage and prompted at least one tornado warning, the National Weather Service reported.
Around 10,000 North Carolina residents remain in shelters, and many others are staying elsewhere, Cooper told The AP. Also, about 245,000 people are still without power.
Hope said she filled out paperwork in hopes of receiving assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The federal government has approved major disaster declarations for the Carolinas, meaning immediate funds can go to help with damage repairs and recovery, The AP said.
FEMA officials have been in North Carolina for days looking at housing options, said Mike Sprayberry, director the state Division of Emergency Management. He told The AP they expect to use FEMA’s Transitional Sheltering Assistance program, which uses state and federal funds to house displaced residents in hotels.
Another Jackson County native living in North Carolina was able to stay put.
Jared Nierman lives in Charlotte, which is about four and a half hours west of Jacksonville.
On Sunday, he reported trees on houses and busted windshields on cars, gas stations out of gas and stores out of food and water.
“It’s weird seeing the shelves so empty,” Nierman said. “I think it’s funny that so many people literally live on soda and tea, but when a storm comes, they need water all of a sudden. I just don’t understand.”
On Sunday afternoon, he said he had to drive 13 miles before finding milk.
“I went to four different grocery stores looking for milk and had to go to the complete opposite side of town to find it,” Nierman said.
At that point, he said the area had received a constant rain for more than 24 hours and wind gusts of 40 to 50 mph.
On Tuesday, he said while everything had settled down in Charlotte, he was busy at work repairing and renting out generators and portable light towers to people on the coast. He works for United Rentals, which rents out construction equipment.
The light towers run off of diesel fuel, he said.
“Since people and businesses are out of power, it’s just a comfort thing to have some lights on the side of the streets and whatnot,” Nierman said. “And since they’re working around the clock to clean up, again with no power, they’ve got to be able to see at night. I guess as a species, we’ve become so reliant on light and electricity, it’s the first thing we want in these situations.”
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On Saturday, WITN-TV reported live from Webb Apartments in Jacksonville, North Carolina, where Brownstown native Hope Lockman lived. Check out the video at facebook.com/witntv/videos/2082815825084837.
To help those impacted by Hurricane Florence, visit redcross.org/donate/hurricane-florence-donations.html.