Jones County family that has helped others, is helped during and after Florence
Renae Eubanks Banks and her mother, Geraldine Eubanks, show a video of the Georgia boat rescue team that saved their family as Hurricane Florence’s flood waters rose to unprecedented levels. Photo by BJ Murphy / Neuse News.
Jones County has been blessed with no fatalities during Hurricane Florence, but many of the county’s residents have been displaced by the natural disaster.
The area was proactive as thousands left from flood-prone areas, but there were more than 200 who needed emergency evacuation. Areas barely impacted from Hurricane Floyd in 1999 or Matthew in 2016 were suddenly affected, surprising those who felt they were prepared to wait it out.
Renae Eubanks Banks said her mother, Geraldine Eubanks, own a house in Plantation — a community in Jones County between Trenton and Comfort — which helped numerous residents.
“This is the highest point in the Plantation,” Banks said of the house. “This house has been known for being a safe haven, almost a Noah’s Ark. In 1999 when this area was flooded, this house was a saving grace to 35 people, so Mom prepared for the same thing. She had her freezers full for whatever we needed if we were going to be trapped for the same time as (Floyd), which was about three weeks.
“We had no idea this house would flood.”
Even the highest point of Plantation wasn’t prone to the Trent River flooding it. Compounding the issue was the lack of power in Jones County and an inability for Banks to reach her mother, much less having the ability to call for help.
“When we realized the waters were rising, we had no contact,” Banks said. “We had no cell phone service with phone lines down, didn’t know what was going on with (my mother), isolated with each other. It was kind of strange someone from Raleigh or Charlotte could get a text from me to her.
“We still don’t know the culprit getting us rescued late at night (Saturday, around 9 p.m.,) when I heard they were getting rescued by boats.”
A rescue team from Georgia, initially looking to assist New Bern residents, weren’t needed in the area due to an abundance of help. Instead, the group rescued families in Jones County by boat as waters continued to rise.
“When we saw that light, we knew we had hope but up until that point we didn’t,” Eubanks said. “They were able to get all 12 of us out and I begged them to get Renae because I hadn’t heard from her and her family. We were able to get them in the boat and have the family together.”
As waters have since receded, the recovery process has begun. The family who has helped others has received assistance from other Good Samaritans, for which Eubanks said she’s been thankful.
“People who don’t know us are reaching out,” Eubanks said. “We’ve had food and supplies, but anything someone needs in the community, they can come here for them. It’s just been a blessing and we’re thankful for everyone who has assisted, even for something like a bottle of cold water. We’re very blessed the family was spared, and that was the most important part.”
Banks said the importance of family was strengthened even further in the aftermath.
“I’m a very sentimental person and I always think about fires and flood damage, so when storms come in I take picture off the walls,” Banks said “I’m fearful of trees coming down to ruin pictures, so I put them in trash bags and under the bed. On the boat, that came to mind, but my cousin called that night or the next day and I said to her ‘do one thing and remind me what I’m fixing to say.’
“My pictures do not matter anymore. I’ve got my family and we’re safe — that’s all that matters.”