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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 >>

Community ties weather the storm

The flood did not destroy neighborly ties, Coward insists. She remembers the arrival of foodstuffs at her doorstep when she was moving back home.

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

How do you explain what you've been through for the last year and a half, right? How do you do that? You know how you were saying before the flood came, neighbors would do for each other?
CLYDA COWARD:
They still do.
LEDA HARTMAN:
How is that now, even though not everybody is back?
DEBRA COWARD:
One Saturday morningߞin fact, I guess it was the Saturday we movedߞwe were going back and forth; and one of the trips we came back, there was a tin of muffins in the door. No name on them.
LEDA HARTMAN:
Because people had seen that you were moving back?
DEBRA COWARD:
And one Saturday again, we ran an errand. We came back, my daddy had received this huge pineapple cake that somebody had just chosen to give us.
BETTY:
You don't know who it was?
DEBRA COWARD:
Yes, ma'am. We finally got that one figured out. But there's generosity. There's people that care. It's just that it isn't the easiness of mind and spirit that it used to be that everything is okay because I guess you just kind of feel like nothing will ever be quite as secure as it was. And it might be that reality's hit; that, yeah, nothing is really certain except that you live until you die, and you do the best you can along the way.
LEDA HARTMAN:
And maybe there's something healing in coming back here. [Affirmative responses in the background] This is the place that you've known all your life and so on. Well, I think I'm just about all set unless there's another thought that you had that I didn't think to ask you or that other people need to know who haven't lived through what you have lived through.
CLYDA COWARD:
Well, I hope nobody else don't ever have to live through it no more. I really do. I wouldn't wish this on nobody.
DEBRA COWARD:
I hope that people in communities appreciate each other and respect each other. All the differences that you think you might have, all it takes is something like a flood or a natural disaster, or even maybe not even that, for the humanity to come out in all of us. I know I have a lot to pay back.
LEDA HARTMAN:
What do you mean?
DEBRA COWARD:
So many wonderful things have happened. So many people have opened their hearts, their pocketbooks, have done things for us that they didn't have to do. We were always pretty much self-sufficient before, and when you don't have a pot to cook in or a window to throw it out, it makes a difference.
CLYDA COWARD:
Then, you see, we had such a let down because for so long during the time that the water was up when we couldn't get in anywhere, we didn't belong nowhere. This area in hereߞ.
DEBRA COWARD:
Because it's so close to the county line.
BETTY:
It was deserted. It was absolutely deserted.
DEBRA COWARD:
But I meant, we didn't belong to Pitt County, and we certainly didn't belong to Lenoir.
CLYDA COWARD:
Therefore, we weren't getting any help.
DEBRA COWARD:
So, except for the generosity of individuals who would choose to do things, we would have certainly been left out because governmentsߞwe didn't quite fit with anybody.
LEDA HARTMAN:
Officially.
DEBRA COWARD:
Yeah. But people were good to us anyway.
LEDA HARTMAN:
And the people who would have done for each other were allߞ?
DEBRA COWARD:
Scattered and couldn't come together that you would've usually done when there was something to go wrongߞthat people would've come by and seen what they could do and just do it.