Much of Sampson County’s residents have returned to normal following the recent hit from Hurricane Florence. However, a small portion in the southern end of the county is just beginning to dig out from the devastation brought by historic floods.
Residents in Ivanhoe continue to clean out the molded and soggy debris left behind from nearly 10 inches of standing water in some areas, some having lost everything they own.
A group from Wilmington, with ties to the Ivanhoe area, arranged a food, supply and clothes distribution effort Wednesday morning, prepared to serve as many as 400 people. Abrams Catering from Tarboro donated the food and their services to serve the barbecue and chicken plates.
“I felt like I needed to do something,” Kathryn Brown Ciarrocca said. “When God puts things on your heart, you have to do something about it.”
Standing on the grounds of the Black River Presbyterian Church, Ciarrocca talked about her family, who is from the Ivanhoe area, and the history of wedding ceremonies and family gatherings that had taken place there.
“During Matthew, the water came up to the first step,” she said as she pointed to the entrance of the church. “This time, the water was up to the bottom of the door.”
While there was no major damage to the Presbyterian church, the entire area under the church flooded.
“Right here where we are standing, you could have gone swimming.”
Residents around the church weren’t as lucky. Many, blocked off from their normal travel route on Ivanhoe Road because of a wash out, are just starting to piece together some sense of normalcy.
Ciarrocca’s father grew up in Ivanhoe, and many of her family continues to live in the area. Despite the destruction the residents of Wilmington faced during Hurricane Florence, a group of churches organized donations for the residents in the Sampson County community.
“Getting out the word to the residents has been hard,” Ciarrocca said. “Many of these people are still digging out of their own stuff.”
Ciarrocca said her group was prepared to hand-deliver the items and plates of food if necessary.
“We just want to make sure people are getting what they need.”
The group set up a system, allowing people to easily walk through and get a hot meal, grocery items, cleaning supplies, hygiene supplies, baby formula, clothes and other items that have been lost during the flood.
“One hundred percent of this is through donations,” Ciarrocca said. “We were really fortunate to receive so much generosity and supplies.”
The Ivanhoe Post Office had 8 inches of water standing inside the building following Hurricane Florence. Residents are now sending and receiving mail out of a mail truck parked in the building’s parking lot.
For those residents forced from their homes, they have arranged temporary housing in tents and campers, or moved out of the area because of the housing shortage in the area.
Travel is still tricky, as the main road through Ivanhoe continues to be closed, and other affected roads have temporarily been fixed to allow residents to travel.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.