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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Leslie Thorbs, May 30, 2001. Interview K-0589. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Immediate impact of the flooding from Hurricane Floyd

Thorbs describes how he and his wife barely escaped from the flooding wrought by Hurricane Floyd in 1999. Because the flooding happened so quickly, the Thorbs family had to flee from their home in the middle of the night. All but two of the Thorbs's six surviving children had also settled in DuPont, North Carolina and all were displaced, at least temporarily. Because one of the children had a fairly large home in Kinston, North Carolina, Thorbs's explains that they were able to avoid living in the shelters until they were able to return. Thorbs's home was destroyed and he and his wife lost everything in the flood.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Leslie Thorbs, May 30, 2001. Interview K-0589. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

LEDA HARTMAN:
So what all happened to all of you? You're all living on the street. What all happened when the flood came? What happened to everybody?
LESLIE THORBS:
Oh Lord, have mercy. When they came and got us out that night about one o'clock, one-thirty, me and my wife when we got out, we got out with what we had slept in. I think I put my pants on over my pajamas. She had on her nightclothes and we got out then. If we hadn't have, we couldn't have gotten out.
LEDA HARTMAN:
What did it look like?
LESLIE THORBS:
It looked likeߞ. I don't know, it just looked like an ocean. That's what it was. The water came right on up in our houseߞright on over the beds, the dressers and everything.
LEDA HARTMAN:
Were you in bed when the water came up?
LESLIE THORBS:
No. Uh uh. See, they came around. They were coming around through blowing horns and blowing and getting people ready and people out of their house because the water was coming so fast. About nine o'clock that Thursday night, it wasn't a bit of water down that street anywhere about nine o'clock. Back out here to the highway, turned to go up toward Hugo, the four-lane [road], there wasn't any water down there. By one-thirty when my daughter just left here. They stay right across there in that trailer there. When they came down here to get us up, get us out, by the time we could get out and get back down here, the water was running in the back seat of the car. That's just how fast that water was running.
LEDA HARTMAN:
Oh my word.
LESLIE THORBS:
Yes sir.
LEDA HARTMAN:
What a shock.
LESLIE THORBS:
Then when we got out here and turned and were going to go out that way to the four-lane [highway], the water was running in the back seat of the car. It was running across there, where it was running so fast. I imagine that water was rising a foot every half-hour, if not more than that. It might have been rising more than that. Like near something had juiced right out. That's the way it had done. Something juiced right out. That's the way it was.
LEDA HARTMAN:
So where all did you go?
LESLIE THORBS:
We went to Kinston to live with my daughter over there. That's where we went.
LEDA HARTMAN:
And your kids, where did they go?
LESLIE THORBS:
Well, half of them, some of them went to my brother's. My daughters that are married, they went to their daughters' house and stayed with them, took them in.
LEDA HARTMAN:
So you were lucky to have a lot of family in the area.
LESLIE THORBS:
Yeah. Yeah.
LEDA HARTMAN:
In order to take everybody in, so nobody had to go to shelter.
LESLIE THORBS:
No. Thank God none of my whole family had to go to a shelter.
LEDA HARTMAN:
Wow.
LESLIE THORBS:
That's just the way it is. My daughter, she has a big house over in Kinston. Wasn't anybody but her and her husband, and my sonߞthe one Miss Betty knowsߞthat stays up here right at Kinston. He has a two-story house. He has enough room where it probably couldn't have slept everybody on beds, but as many rooms as he's got, if you got pallets and got on the floorߞ. He took careߞ. He had about fifteen head of people in his house that he took care of. A lot of people from over the creek, they went up there in Georgetown and started staying up there. I don't know what happened. They got put out or something. He took all of them in. He had a houseful. That's true.
LEDA HARTMAN:
So your family really helped each other.
LESLIE THORBS:
Oh yeah. Oh yeah, that's one thing about that.
LEDA HARTMAN:
Because it would've been a lot worse to have to go to a shelter andߞ
LESLIE THORBS:
Well, and see, my wife helped along then. It would've been some kind of bad to got her when of them little bitty mobile homeߞyou know like the little trailers ߞwhere they were in. What happened, the rescue squad had to come and got her aboutߞif they didn't get her twice a weekߞevery week to carry her to the hospital. She had had a spell. You see that little old place like that there, it would've been bad for them trying to get in there and get out with the stretchers to get her out.