Christmas spirit rises from the flood

Families across eastern N.C. will spend Christmas in temporary housing as the state and FEMA work on recovery

LUMBERTON — As North Carolinians celebrate Christmas Day, families affected and displaced by the floods from Hurricane Matthew are reminding people statewide of the joys in being grateful for what you have and knowing togetherness is worth more than material goods.Fredrick Moore was born and reared in Lumberton. It’s home to him. He’s spent most of his life as a truck driver until he had back surgery that resulted in his inability to work.He and his wife, Loretta, were married when he was 19. He’s 60 now. Two sons and three grandchildren later, they’ve been married 41 years.”We love to go to church. We’ve been members at Townsend Chapel, oh about 25 years,” said Moore.Fredrick and Loretta share their home with their 17-year-old granddaughter and 8-year-old son. The Moores have lived at their house in Lumberton for the last 12 years until Hurricane Matthew forced them out.”The hurricane came on a Saturday. We woke up on Sunday to the water coming inside our home and had to evacuate immediately,” said Moore.”We grabbed a few clothes and our medicines. Most of our clothes were underwater. We didn’t get a chance to grab too much.”They fled to his brother-in-law’s home in Durham where they remained for two weeks. They lived with Loretta’s mother for another two weeks until they could find housing through FEMA with the Comfort Suites hotel.”By being a member of a church, having good church friends and relatives, we were able to come through,” said Moore. “They have been supportive and helpful offering food, money and sharing their homes.”The Moores live behind the Sandy Grove Baptist Church. After the waters began to recede and they could gain access to their neighborhood to assess the damage to their home, they found water still lurking inside.”It was a mess. Tupperware was on the floor, the deep freezer was floating around and everything was wet, still soaked,” said Moore.Water inside the home had reached two-and-a-half feet meaning the sheetrock, floors, carpet — everything — had to be gutted and removed.”At first, I was really down-hearted. Going back and seeing the neighborhood was heartbreaking and made us sad but having each other helped us pull through,” said Moore.”A Christian group of volunteers came and were a great help to us. They came to help remove floors and sheetrock,” he added. “They were a great help to everyone in the neighborhood.”Last Saturday, after spending two months displaced, the Moore Family moved into their very own FEMA trailer, just in time for Christmas.”It is a really beautiful mobile home,” said Moore. “It’s really exciting. It’s like going back home though it’s not our actual home.””Our little boy has been closed in. He loves to go outdoors and play with friends. It’s been more rough on him because he is not able to go out and play. Moving into the trailer, he will have outside space to play,” he added.This Christmas, the Moores are thankful for the many friends, family and volunteers who have helped them. It’s a long road ahead as the journey to rebuild their home begins, but above all else, they remain grateful for each other.”We never thought we’d go through this. As long as I’ve lived here we’ve not seen flooding of this magnitude,” said Moore. “We’re just glad to have each other especially during Christmas.”