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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 >>

Trying to rebuild after Hurricane Floyd

Coward lost everything in the flooding caused by Hurricane Floyd. She and her husband relied on their faith, rebuilding help from volunteers, and support from her sister.

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

Did you think that you would have to spend the rest of your lives in Ayden? Were you planning to resettle there, or you knew it was just temporary?
CLYDA COWARD:
No, we didn't know. There was one thing that we did know. We knew that in the condition our house was in, we had lost everything. We didn't have no appliances. We didn't have nothing. Then slowly our little savings got gone, and there was no way between here and hallelujah that we could build back this house by ourselves. We couldn't do it. We really didn't know what we were going to do, except we were going to serve the Lord. We knew that.
LEDA HARTMAN:
How were you able to buy the place in Ayden?
CLYDA COWARD:
I don't know. I have always been able to ride my daddy's (back?) and get anything in this world I wanted, even if I didn't have enough money to ever even pay it because that was what happened there. I borrowed a hundred thousand dollars and can't work a lick.
LEDA HARTMAN:
So, even though you had that place, why did you want to come back here?
CLYDA COWARD:
This was home. I was born over there.
LEDA HARTMAN:
It's as simple as that. Who fixed up this house?
CLYDA COWARD:
The Baptist Men. That's been our lifesavers. They have saved a lot of people, and they saved us.
LEDA HARTMAN:
Tell me what all they did, like what kind of shape your house was in, and how they put it back and all that.
DEBRA COWARD:
It was completely gutted: no floors, no ceilings, no walls. There was nothing in here.
BETTY:
Nothing.
DEBRA COWARD:
And they redid it.
CLYDA COWARD:
You see, we had volunteers that went over and beyond the call of duty. There was about eight days there thatߞwell, you could still drive the boat up there, but the freezersߞ. Well, most people have deep freezes, and they had a lot of food and stuff in them. Believe it or not, in September and in 1999, it was warm.
DEBRA COWARD:
It was hot.
BETTY:
Hot. Hot.
DEBRA COWARD:
So everything was spoiled.
CLYDA COWARD:
Those people come in, and even though they had to have gloves and masks and boots and what have youߞ
DEBRA COWARD:
Because the refrigerator had overturned.
CLYDA COWARD:
ߞnobody acted like, Well, this is too nasty for me. Everybody just done what had to be done.
DEBRA COWARD:
The floor was slick. You couldn't half walk on the floorߞ
CLYDA COWARD:
Couldn't stand on the floor.
DEBRA COWARD:
ߞbecause it was slick with slime.
BETTY:
Slime. (And when it got?) hard, you couldn't wash it off.
CLYDA COWARD:
We had hardwood floors and that [unclear] .
DEBRA COWARD:
And they had buckled.
CLYDA COWARD:
They had buckled up.
DEBRA COWARD:
People gutted the house, and then the Baptist Men's organization redid it.
LEDA HARTMAN:
To where it is now?
DEBRA COWARD:
Mm hmm.
BETTY:
With new windows and new heating.
DEBRA COWARD:
Floors and ceilings. We wouldn't have had anything if they hadn't done it because we were not going to invest in fixing the house back.
CLYDA COWARD:
We couldn't afford to. You see, my husband is seventy-one, and I'm sixty-eight, and don't neither one of us work, and we certainly don't have that kind of income. Well, I guess maybe during the time of that flood and the year and a half following, he and I couldn't have survived if it hadn't have been for Debra working (carrying?) us.