Downtown New Bern Residents Cleaning Up From Florence

Sep 18, 2018

Credit Jared Brumbaugh

Water from the Neuse River has receded along New Street in the historic section of downtown.  Now, water logged furniture, insulation and debris line both sides of the road.  For resident Rob Overman, it’s the worst flooding he’s seen since he moved to New Bern 30 years ago.

“We were very fortunate, for whatever reason, we’re the only house in the 200 block of New Street that didn’t flood.  Just the right mix of height, location, luck.”

The water came up underneath his home and soaked the duct work and insulation.  He says it completely flooded his garage and ruined the air condition system.  One of his neighbors, who is out of the state, had four feet of water in their home.

Credit Jared Brumbaugh

“In a more normal storm, if there is such a thing, it’s usually a week of prep and a week of cleaning. I think this cleanup will go for months.  Some of these houses will probably have to be raised, at the very minimum, they’re going to have to come in and cut out the interior walls and cabinetry.  It’s going to be a long process, unfortunately.”

Only a couple blocks away, David Eudy, from Raleigh, was picking up debris and cleaning up the garage of his family’s 7th generation home on East Front Street.

"This is a freak storm that just kept pushing the sound all the way to New Bern, the sound came to New Bern.”

While the garage and basement flooded, Eudy says the water was only two inches from getting inside. He says that’s the highest the water has ever come up since the house was built.

“It’s never in our 150 years of oral history ever happened before.”

Before the storm, Eudy decided to evacuate to Raleigh with his elderly father. His two brothers from Asheville and Morehead decided to stay in the home and ride out the storm.

Credit Jared Brumbaugh

“My brother called me and said your boat is crashing into the house, and I said leave the boats, let them crash into the house.  I don’t care, you’re going to get killed.  But they went out here and tied the boats up anyway.  The car started floating around in the yard so they had to get ropes and dive down and tie ropes around the axle and to keep things there from floating off.”

While many of the people who live on East Front Street decided to evacuate during Florence, New Bern resident Lee Johnson decided to stay.

“The storm experience was hellacious; it was really frightening like something I’ve never seen.”

All through the night, Johnson communicated with his wife who evacuated through a text message every two hours to tell her he was safe.  Johnson spent the entire night moving family heirlooms and personal items to the second floor of his house just in case water entered his home.

Credit Jared Brumbaugh

“As the water began to crest higher and higher out here at the Neuse, and my house is just across the street from the Neuse.  The waves came crashing in. These weren’t little white caps, these were big waves breaking in and they were slapping up against the side of my house constantly for hours. Bam, bam, bam, bam, bam.”

Finally, when the storm subsided, Johnson surveyed the damage.  A stone wall on the side of the house collapsed in two places.  His basement flooded.  And a section of the foundation wall under his home was damaged by the waves. 

“The water came as high as here.  So, what is that? 11 feet, my house is rated 11 feet.”

Johnson considers himself lucky that no water entered his home. 

Other homeowners on East Front Street weren’t so fortunate.  Some people had two to four feet of water in their homes.  Two motorboats and a yacht washed up during the storm.  And the roof of a garage is now laying in the middle of Linden Street. Most of the people on East Front Street have yet to return home since evacuating before the storm.  Others, who lost most of their belongings, were too distraught to be interviewed. 

Credit Jared Brumbaugh

Credit Jared Brumbaugh

Credit Jared Brumbaugh

Credit Jared Brumbaugh