Residents remember Hurricane Florence on its 5th anniversary

Residents remember Hurricane Florence on its 5th anniversary
Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 6:27 PM EDT
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POLLOCKSVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - Water swallowing homes, people stranded on top of their roofs or leaving behind all their belongings. That was the reality for residents of Pollocksville five years ago today when Hurricane Florence made landfall in Eastern Carolina.

“We made the decision to stay, proved to be unfortunate, and my wife looked back out because we live right on the river, and she saw the water coming up much more quickly than it ever had done before,” said Pollocksville resident Steven Stelma.

The mayor of Pollocksville said 75 commercial and residential areas were flooded with the hurricane’s impact, which left some people, such as Steve Stelma, in some terrifying situations.

“Then tried to go back and save the horses and the other animals the next day, and we swam our horses down the driveway, and my wife got caught in the flood waters and was being swept downstream,” said Stelma.

But lucky there was help.

“The Cajun Navy, who were assisting us getting our animals out. They reached out and got her and pulled her back,” said Stelma.

Now, with hurricane season here once again, some who experienced Florence are fearful. It’s especially true for those who chose to rebuild.

“Every September, we worry if that was the right decision or not,” said Stelma.

While Pollocksville has made great strides within the past five years-, the mayor says they still have a long way to go.

“My attitude is it took 72 hours for us to lose everything. It’ll take 72 months, which will be six years, to get it fixed back. I think the memory will always stick with the folks. I think every time we hear of a storm coming, he will get nervous,” said Pollocksville Mayor Jay Bender.

The Pollocksville mayor said they have implemented a Pollocksville flood plan to help mitigate flood waters down at the river, with still more to do on Main Street.