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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Clyda Coward and Debra Coward, May 30, 2001. Interview K-0833. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Hurricane Floyd is particularly destructive

Tick Bite residents were able to survive past hurricanes, Clyda and Debra recall, but Hurricane Floyd was so destructive that it scattered community members, driving them from their homes and robbing them of places to gather.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Clyda Coward and Debra Coward, May 30, 2001. Interview K-0833. 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:
In the past disasters like '63 or Hurricane Hazel or things like that, how did people deal with it then?
CLYDA COWARD:
Well, it wasn't near as bad as this water. It seems that people could deal with the wind and what damage the wind done a lot better than they could this water.
LEDA HARTMAN:
You mean like from past hurricanes, they could prepare for that a lot easier than this flooding?
CLYDA COWARD:
Mm hmm.
DEBRA COWARD:
We didn't have the extent of the destruction. That was the difference because it was just a few houses. Back in the other, wind damage on a house down here, here and there scattered, but not whole communities wiped out.
LEDA HARTMAN:
Never anything close to this?
DEBRA COWARD:
Unh uh. In their history.
LEDA HARTMAN:
And so, in your lifetime, in past floods or storms or whatever, how did people react? How did the community deal with it then when it wasn't as bad as what happened during Floyd?
CLYDA COWARD:
Well, the people in this areaߞand when I say this area, I'm saying from Tick Bite all the way out to Eleven Highwayߞthe people always helped one another. If one person could do one thing, then somebody else could do something else. Everybody got together and done what they could do. It was just like ants carrying a crumb. It was getting done.
DEBRA COWARD:
It was a rural area. You always had chimneys, so you could have some heat; people would go buy ice; you had a source of water. So you could survive. It was not the most modern way to do it. It was not convenient, but you could survive.
BETTY:
You didn't have to leave home.
DEBRA COWARD:
No ma'am. You could survive.
LEDA HARTMAN:
And just wait it out like you said?
DEBRA COWARD:
Mm hmm. Even when we had the destruction from the other storms and you didn't have lights for days, you could still survive.
LEDA HARTMAN:
How was this different?
DEBRA COWARD:
We were displaced. We had nowhere to go.
LEDA HARTMAN:
What did the community do?
CLYDA COWARD:
Then the next thing you see this water, it really took away the opportunities that we did have. Because, you see, like I said before, if I could get three bricks and a pot, I could cook. But you see, there was no bricks and no pots.
BETTY:
If there had been, somebody would've stolen them before you got back. [Laughter]
DEBRA COWARD:
Yes, ma'am.
LEDA HARTMAN:
Now tell me about that because before you said people would've done for each other. Each person would have done one thingߞ.
CLYDA COWARD:
Well, you see, this affected so many people. It was so widespread. Really, there's so many people right now I don't know where they are.
LEDA HARTMAN:
Some of your neighbors that youߞ?
CLYDA COWARD:
Well, not our neighbors in this area but some people that we knew, that we would go to church with and things like that. They just moved.
DEBRA COWARD:
They had to leave and haven't come back, and we don't know where they are.
LEDA HARTMAN:
People that you knew for how long?
CLYDA COWARD:
All my lifeߞsixty-eight years.
LEDA HARTMAN:
And you don't know where they are?
CLYDA COWARD:
No, but I know that they're all right wherever they are. I know that there's a lot of peoples [that] have located over in Ayden. I don't know where all else.
LEDA HARTMAN:
So what's that like to have these people that you've known all your life and lived nearby and now they're not there?
CLYDA COWARD:
Well, you see our churches was a central location for so long. And our churches have gotten destroyed.
LEDA HARTMAN:
By the flood?
CLYDA COWARD:
Uh huh. And our particular church is not built back yet.