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NC Flood Victims Thankful for Help

September 26, 1999

ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. (AP) _ People across eastern North Carolina put down their cleaning supplies briefly Sunday to give thanks for the help they have received in recovering from Hurricane Floyd’s deadly flooding.

``God has been so good to us when this happened,″ said Melanie Hicks, who had spent the week trying to salvage her Rocky Mount uniform business. ``I don’t know how people deal without faith.″

Across the flooded region, church services were held Sunday wherever a dry spot could be found, from parking lots to day-care centers to shelters for people left homeless.

In Rocky Mount, where nearly a quarter of the town was under water at one point and more than 3,000 homes and businesses were damaged, some 800 people attended a service in the parking lot of the Englewood Baptist Church.

The church was never threatened by the high water, and was able to serve as a place where people could donate items, get a hot meal or pray.

``We’re going to feed them; we’re going to clothe them; we’re going to give them deodorant, praise God,″ the Rev. Donald Pope said in his sermon. ``The most important thing that we can ever give them is what happened at Calvary.″

Among those at the service was Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., who offered thanks for the donations that have poured into the region.

``It is absolutely amazing to watch how God’s children respond,″ Edwards said. ``The response both here and all over this state has been absolutely heroic.″

In hard-hit Tarboro, about 50 parishioners of His Majesty Church and a group of volunteers from Axton, Va., held a service in the lobby of a day-care center, opening with the hymn ``It’s All Right.″

The day before, the eight volunteers had helped pull waterlogged furnishings out of the church, which had water 9 1/2 feet deep.

``In the midst of the storm, God sent us some people, and I thank him for giving us these people, because they put a face on Christ,″ said Barbara Pittman, whose husband is the bishop of the church.

Although water continued to recede Sunday, many rivers remained above flood stage and some were not expected to drop below that point until Friday. Light showers and thunderstorms were forecast for Monday.

More than 2,790 people remained in shelters Sunday, their homes either still inundated or judged unsafe.

Floyd killed 47 people in North Carolina, among some 70 who died from the Bahamas to New England. Preliminary estimates are that the storm caused $70.2 million in housing damage in eastern North Carolina, with more than 2,600 homes destroyed or seriously damaged.

Statewide, more than 35,000 people have registered for state and federal assistance.

At least one person has been accused of trying to take advantage of the misery left by Floyd.

Brian Scott L’Hommedieu, 33, of Fort Myers, Fla., was arrested Friday after he allegedly tried to charge $2,980 to clean flood-damaged carpets. The work should have cost about $650, said Ted Carlton of the state Alcohol Law Enforcement.

The carpets belong to the Topsail Beach Police Department.

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