Mary and Joel Williams and their family are residents of Greenville, North Carolina. When Hurricane Floyd struck, she heard all the weather reports, read the articles in the newspapers about its impending landfall and was prepared – or so she thought. On the afternoon of September 16, 1999, Mary and her family were outside enjoying a beautiful late summer day. She thought that the experts had gotten this one wrong – Floyd wasn’t the major catastrophe it was predicted to be. That’s when the National Guard came up the road in Humvees and ordered everyone to evacuate. She asked if she could pack a bag and the reply was a firm “No! We have to go right now; this area will be flooded in 10 minutes!” Mary thought the Guard was being overly dramatic and exaggerating, so she grabbed a toothbrush and a change of clothes and left.
The next time she saw her home was three days later. She had to plead with the Guard to allow her to return to see if there was anything she could salvage. The water line inside her home was at four feet. The shrubs outside the home were no longer lively and deep green but dead and faded brown. Debris deposited by the flood waters littered her home inside and out. Many irreplaceable mementos – photos, artwork, important papers and gifts were lost. The Williams family had lost virtually everything, but they had each other and they had faith that a better day would come.
The next year, Governor James B. Hunt created the Hurricane Floyd Relief Fund. This Fund received donations from across the country to help the victims of the worst disaster in the state’s history. Through a collaborative effort between the United Way of North Carolina and the Fund, the North Carolina Division of Emergency Management received a $1 Million Dollars grant to be used to rebuild homes destroyed and severely damaged by the hurricane. The Permanent Replacement Housing Program was borne of this effort and it was this Program that made the Williams’ dream of returning to their own home a reality.
Today, through the Permanent Replacement Housing Program, Mary and her family enjoy the following:
- A newly reconstructed, semi-custom brick home
- A home elevated above the 100-year floodplain
- A roof built to withstand 150-mph winds (above building code)
- An HVAC unit elevated above the 100-year floodplain
- Energy efficient windows and appliances
- Custom cabinets
Despite the devastation of Hurricane Floyd, Mary and Joel Williams and their experience with the Permanent Replacement Housing Program is a success story. To meet Mary and hear her story in her own words, view the videos below: