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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Florence Dillahunt, May 31, 2001. Interview K-0580. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Impact of Hurricane Floyd and flooding in 1999

Dillahunt describes the impact of the flooding, wrought by Hurricane Floyd in 1999, on her family's tobacco farm. Dillahunt explains that not only did the family lose nearly everything, but they had no flood insurance. In addition, she describes how the flooding was so extensive that she and her husband were displaced for more than a month before they could return home to start rebuilding their lives. The devastating impact of the flooding on the Dillahunt family was an experience that many rural people shared.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Florence Dillahunt, May 31, 2001. Interview K-0580. 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

FLORENCE DILLAHUNT:
They was doing okay before the flood. We weren't through putting in tobacco when the flood come and we lost a lot. In fact, we lost all of our crop except for all of the tobacco. We had put in maybe over half of the tobacco we had put in when that flood come. Then after thatߞ.
LEDA HARTMAN:
September.
FLORENCE DILLAHUNT:
Yes, we lostߞ. We had the barns full. We had a big trailer load ready for the market. So we lost, we lost a lot. We lost a lot. Sure did. And my house, I didn't have no flood insurance on that. So I didn't get nothing there. So that's how come we ain't got our house back.
LEDA HARTMAN:
Tell me what your house was like.
FLORENCE DILLAHUNT:
Well, it was a house. It was a five bedroom house. My mother had raised all of us up in it. My daddy had enlarged it and then I had had it remodeled. It was a pretty good house. Everybody liked to come. They called it home. So when everybody got ready to come home, they come home and that was the house they would come to. We had just had a family reunion that year. Everybody had come home and we had a good time. Then I turned around and lost everything.
LEDA HARTMAN:
How many people came to the reunion?
FLORENCE DILLAHUNT:
A lot of them. I guess there was over a hundred of them.
LEDA HARTMAN:
Over a hundred.
FLORENCE DILLAHUNT:
Yes.
LEDA HARTMAN:
And how old was the original house?
FLORENCE DILLAHUNT:
My house? That house must have beenߞ. I'm sixty-six and my daddy had that house way before that. The house might have been about a hundred years old, something like that.
LEDA HARTMAN:
Wow. Wow. So what were some of the things that you lost in the flood that can't be replaced?
FLORENCE DILLAHUNT:
About everything I had was lost.
LEDA HARTMAN:
Things from your family?
FLORENCE DILLAHUNT:
Yes. My son come in on a boat and he did get a few, few of the pictures that was hanging on the walls. He got a man that had a motor on a boat to bring him in here. The water come in. Started coming in that Thursday evening and we left out that Friday morning. They come in and rescued us. So we lost all ourߞ. [The] only vehicles that we had insurance on, that we could get replaced, was a truck and a car. All the others, we didn't have nothing on that. We lost all of it. So we was like three months getting back in here after we had the flood. The water stayed in here so long. They said you could touch the top of my house from the boat. And my house wasn't no low house. It was tall. This little barn right back out here, we call the smoke house. You just could see the top of it. I didn't ever come back in here while the water was up, but other people did. And my son and him coming here at that time, they took some pictures. And the boy told them that they didn't need to come in here no more because the water had such strong undercurrent in it and we had just gassed up all the tanks to the barn, with gas because we weren't through putting in tobacco. All of them tanks uplifted from the ground and all that gas escaped. So he said they could have got blowed up. He told them they need to stay out so they didn't get nobody to bring them back in here no more.
LEDA HARTMAN:
What about your animals? Did you have animals then?
FLORENCE DILLAHUNT:
Yes. They got my dogs. The Humane Society come in on a boat. I come down to the water on a Sunday and they had my dogs. They couldn't get the cats. The cats went up in the trees. I guess a lot of those got drowned, but there were still some here when we come back. They didn't have nothing to eat.
BETTY HOWES:
That was three or four weeks before you could come back, wasn't it?
FLORENCE DILLAHUNT:
Before I could come back in here? Longer than that. We couldn't come back in here. We had the flood and then after that, the water had started going out, I guess, about a month. And we had another big rain because my husband and them had come back in here on a tractor that they had got down low enough, he could drive the tractor in. Then it got right [high?] again.
LEDA HARTMAN:
So this place was underwater for about a month, really?
FLORENCE DILLAHUNT:
Yes, more. It was over a month in here.