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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Edith Warren, August 28, 2002. Interview K-0601. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Hurricane Floyd's devastating impact

Warren describes the morning after Hurricane Floyd struck: the water was so high she could not leave her house, frustrating her resolve to do something about the situation. As soon as she could leave her house, she did and was stunned to see the transformation wrought by the flood as she traveled by boat to bring food to those in need.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Edith Warren, August 28, 2002. Interview K-0601. 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:
Did your own neighborhood get hit?
EDITH WARREN:
My neighborhood was very fortunate. We had water, more water than we have ever had in our neighborhood – it was up to, in the street, up to the bumpers on the big pickup trucks, so when I looked out my window I did not see lots of trees down, but I saw all this water, and I knew it just did not feel right. So I got in touch with the director of the public works for Farmville, and asked him how things were in Farmville. And he said, "Miss Edith, you can't get out of your house, can you?" I said, "No, I can't." And this gentleman, David Shackleford, he said, "I will come and get you." He said, "Farmville is in a mess." So he came and got me, and we went a few blocks away in Farmville, and that side was being flooded. They were in the process of evacuating people very quickly. The waters were rising. People were being rescued by boat, and I knew that if this was happening in Farmville, that was very, very dry and never, never had we seen anything close to this kind of water in Farmville, then I knew that there was a lot of trouble in other areas.
LEDA HARTMAN:
That were lower?
EDITH WARREN:
Absolutely. So as I began to make contacts around the region, it was just so frightening to hear what was happening. And fortunately, I had telephone service, so that at least I could make some contacts around and talk with people in the various areas. And I just felt so helpless that this was going on, and I could not get out and do anything. As I would talk to emergency management people around in the different areas, they would say – and so many of them call me Miss Edith – "Miss Edith, you cannot get here. You're just going to have to make up your mind that you have got to stay where you are. You cannot get out." I just could not picture in my mind what was going on.
LEDA HARTMAN:
That must have been frustrating to you.
EDITH WARREN:
It was very frustrating, because I thought, "I need to be doing something. I need to be doing something."
LEDA HARTMAN:
Why did you feel that way?
EDITH WARREN:
Because that's what I'm accustomed to doing. If somebody has a need – my mother always made a pot of soup, or she baked a cake, or she made a pie, or did something to help somebody in need – so throughout my life I thought if somebody needs some help, you make a pot of soup, or you do something to help them. And it was very, very frustrating. At that point I had to accept the fact that all I could do was be on the telephone, because I could not get outside my door at that point. But as soon as I had a ways and means of starting to cook, which came, fortunately for me, not many hours after the event occurred – we did have power restored in my neighborhood—
LEDA HARTMAN:
And your house didn't get flooded?
EDITH WARREN:
And my house did not get flooded.
LEDA HARTMAN:
So you were in better shape than you could have been?
EDITH WARREN:
So I was in much better shape than I could have been. So yes, I could make the pot of soup, or I could make the sandwiches, and leave them at the police station, or do those kinds of things.
LEDA HARTMAN:
Did you do that?
EDITH WARREN:
And I did those things until the bread supplies gave out, because in Farmville, very quickly the supplies gave out, and we were one of the few communities that, by roundabout ways, people could get to. And of course very quickly the supplies were exhausted. And I did have someone who was coming from the Raleigh area on Saturday, one of my neighbors who was former representative Linwood Mercer, was coming in from Raleigh on Saturday afternoon, and I asked him to bring me a supply of bread and sandwich fixings and those kinds of things, so that on Sunday afternoon, when waters had receded to a small degree, and people had learned some routes of how to get about a little bit, I could take some food when I went to Greene County and to the emergency center also in Tarboro. Our first trip out, we went a roundabout way from Farmville to Greene Central High School at Snow Hill. And the high school is outside town, so from the high school we took a boat, that was a wildlife resources boat, into Snow Hill, and from there a pickup truck took me into the emergency center. I just could not believe what I was seeing.
LEDA HARTMAN:
What was it?
EDITH WARREN:
It was just water everywhere. Going on the trip into Snow Hill, we followed the road. We were traveling by boat on the road above cars that were stranded on the road. And it's still so hard to believe that that event happened.
LEDA HARTMAN:
What a shock.
EDITH WARREN:
It was a shock.
LEDA HARTMAN:
A trauma?
EDITH WARREN:
A trauma. And we all just cried and cried and cried, you know? It was just an incredible—see, we still do it.
LEDA HARTMAN:
What makes you cry three years out?
EDITH WARREN:
The memories are still so vivid, and people suffered so. And still are.
LEDA HARTMAN:
And still are?
EDITH WARREN:
Even though we've made a lot of progress, we still have people hurting, and those memories of that.