North Carolina December 27, 2016
A Terrifying, Deadly Storm Struck North Carolina In 1999 And No One Saw It Coming
North Carolina is no stranger to hurricanes; most recently, Hurricane Matthew devastated the state. The Neuse River surpassed its crest and eastern North Carolina towns like Lumberton, Kinston and Fayetteville were practically submerged. After two weeks of rescues, 25 lives were lost. Yet, sadly enough, that isn’t North Carolina’s deadliest hurricane on record. There’s something worse, something more destructive – and its impact is somewhat recent.
Called the flood of the century and the most devastating storm to North Carolina, Hurricane Floyd made landfall at Cape Fear Sept. 19th. Pounding rain and heavy wind preceded that of Hurricane Dennis, which two weeks prior had already dumped a significant amount of rain. Floyd was the one-two punch that left much of North Carolina devastated.
The real devastation crept in overnight while residents were sleeping soundly, thinking they had possibly been spared any terrible consequences. Floyd was twice the size of typical hurricanes, spanning a 580 mile radius with the eye of the storm seeing 130 mph winds. Over the course of 12 hours, Floyd dumped 15-20 inches of rain on top of the previous 6 from Dennis.
While Floyd made landfall at 3AM, its path was quick. Winds quickly subsided and the sun even came out. Some people even went back to work and breathed a sigh of relief. Until the Tar, Neuse, Roanoke and Pamlico Rivers broke. Water spread to urban areas, rushing inside homes and over beds. Rivers rose 20 feet above flood stage, entire towns were underwater, residents waved for help from rooftops. Trees that had stood the test of time were found floating amongst the streets. Livestock was drowned; over a million chickens and thousands of pigs were killed. The worst part was that the water swept over sewage plants, leaving contaminated water in several major water supplies. Waters rising over the Tar basically wiped the town of Priceville off the map. Floyd was labeled by hydrologists as a 500-year flood event.
From Hurricane Floyd, a total of 20 inches of rainfall resulted. People tried to rescue others who stranded, shelters opened, and FEMA stepped in. Towns where once you'd stroll the quiet Main Street now required a boat or had completely vanished. In total, the category 4 Hurricane Floyd took 87 lives and cost North Carolina $7.8 billion. To this day, it will always be remembered as the single worst hurricane, storm, and disaster to hit North Carolina.
Hurricane Floyd was so devastating, and many residents remember it to this day. What were your experiences with Hurricane Floyd?