Greene, Jones County residents reflect on Hurricane Florence
Photo courtesy of Donna Phillips
As the area continues to bear the brunt of Hurricane Florence, Greene and Jones County have experienced the storm in separate ways.
Patrick Greene, principal of Greene Central High School, said a shelter was set up in the school's gym for those in need. While the weekend provided a mixed bag regarding transportation in Snow Hill, the overall current situation has not been as devastating as the events surrounding Hurricane Matthew two years prior.
“There are still about 100 people in the shelter at Greene Central,” Greene said. “(Saturday) was a good day with people driving around a lot, but (Sunday) a lot of the places thought to be open were closed. Everything’s day to day, but ultimately it’s not too bad for us compared to Matthew. We’re optimistic about a return this week, but if things continue this way we’ll continue using the shelter.”
Greene Central athletic director David Bryant said Walstonburg, where he resides, hasn’t had too many issues.
“I haven’t seen a whole lot of flooding,” Bryant said. “The bridges and roads were passable, and there weren’t a lot of power outages. Once the creek goes down some more, I think we’ll start school again. Still, with us being the only shelter in the county we’ll wait to make sure everyone can return home safely.”
Sayvone Best, a senior at Greene Central, said his hometown of Shine wasn’t affected as much and he was able to assist others over the weekend.
“There were some areas flooded, so I helped out Greene County Inner Faith, a program that assists families and provides food for the homeless,” Best said. “I do hope the rain goes away soon and we can start playing football again.”
Jones County hasn’t been as fortunate, with much of the area dealing with flooding. Numerous residents were forced to evacuate, including Syheen Sauls, a senior at Jones Senior who went to Durham with his parents.
“There was a lot of flooding all over the place,” Sauls said. “I’m hoping everyone still there continues to stay strong and pray — I saw rescuers coming.”
Trojans sophomore, Jacob Kinsey, didn’t travel as far, staying in Kinston since Wednesday. Kinsey said he hopes things will get back to a more positive level soon.
“I’ve just been keeping up with everyone and staying in contact,” Kinsey said. “I’m hoping everything gets better, Trenton clears up, and we can move past this.”
Jones Senior resident Verchele Robinson left for Alexandria, Va. Wednesday. Robinson said she has stayed in contact with friends and family, hoping a similar situation won’t come up again like the days of Hurricane Floyd in 1999.
“From the pictures I saw, everything was underwater,” Robinsons said. “Sept. 16 marked 19 years since we lost everything to Hurricane Floyd and now it looks like we’re going through it again. During Floyd, I was 6, so I didn’t understand the severity, but now that I’m older and have a seven-month-old child, I can understand the devastation even more.
“Police told my mother if it flooded during Floyd, it’ll flood again this time around. The last time I heard from family (Saturday morning) the water was already in the houses. It was hard to get assistance back then, but this time I hope it’ll be better for us in getting the help we need.”
Jones Senior football coach Greg Hampton said his section of Trenton didn’t bear the brunt of the storm, but he is hurting for the community.
“It’s just not a good time,” Hampton said. “I’m just hoping everyone can make it out safely. The National Guard and rescue squads have been taking care of people in need of evacuating. I got an email saying Jones County Schools are closed until further notice, and looking at all of the flooding in Trenton, this isn’t good at all.
“My major concern is Jones County residents. (On Saturday night) flood waters came up and a lot of people weren’t ready. I’m praying that everyone makes it out OK.”
Trojans assistant football coach Dawn Kantz said it’s going to be a long road to recovery for the area.
“It’s hard to think about football right now when our players are evacuated all over the state and beyond,” Kantz said. “We don’t know when they’ll be able to come back because the town is under water. We feel very blessed that we did not have to evacuate and had no damage other than no power or water. Coast Guard helicopters are flying around the area right now; everybody on our road was evacuated by the National Guard (Sunday) morning because both ends of the road were underwater (but) we happen to be on the end of a road that doesn’t flood.
“I hope we can bring the team back together quickly and the game of football can help heal them and the community. It’s going to be tough for the next few months.”