09/22/04 — Treasurer brings stories of heroics to Seven Springs

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Treasurer brings stories of heroics to Seven Springs

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on September 22, 2004 1:58 PM

SEVEN SPRINGS -- State Treasurer Richard Moore co-wrote a book about the heroes of Hurricane Floyd, and Tuesday, he gave former Mayor Jewel Kilpatrick a signed copy of it.

Mrs. Kilpatrick is featured in a story in the new book, which he presented to her at Mae's Restaurant. The book, "Faces from the Flood: Hurricane Floyd Remembered," is co-authored by historian Jay Barnes. Moore said Barnes is the state's foremost hurricane historian. Proceeds from the sale of the book go to the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army.

The flood in Seven Springs devastated the village, dumping several feet of water on all but four of the town's homes.

In the book, Mrs. Kilpatrick tells the story about Doug Casey, who was the fire chief at the time.

Casey said Mrs. Kilpatrick kept him busy. People came and called from everywhere.

Volunteers and supplies arrived in the village from about all of the states, said Mrs. Kilpatrick.

Moore calls it "the Mayberry effect. The real Mayberry is not in Surry County. It's in people's hearts all over the state."

Mrs. Kilpatrick said the flood convinced her that people are good. "It showed us people are there for us."

Moore, who was the state's secretary of Crime Control and Public Safety during Hurricane Floyd, is touring communities damaged by the flood. He is making stops in Wilson, Rocky Mount, Princeville, Greenville, Tarboro, Seven Springs, Jacksonville, Wallace and Burgaw. He said the visits are to honor those whose stories are featured in the book.

Moore was Gov. Jim Hunt's lead emergency management official when Hurricane Floyd made landfall in North Carolina on Sept. 16, 1999. The Category 2 hurricane caused massive flooding in eastern North Carolina, killing 52 people and leaving 66 counties as federal disaster areas. Damage estimates from the storm exceeded $6 billion. The storm quickly became one of the most destructive hurricanes the state had ever seen.

"When I was growing up in Oxford everybody was talking about Hurricane Hazel," said Moore. "But my parents were not able to go to the library and pull out a book about Hurricane Hazel."

Moore said it was difficult choosing the 35 stories out of thousands of stories "about heroes from eastern North Carolina who reached out in a time of disaster to help those in need. ... Gov. Hunt and I were the most visible faces during the storm, and people came up and thanked us for what we were doing. But I didn't risk my life. Doug Casey put his life on the line. He went out there and didn't think twice about it."

He said that when he was in Rocky Mount on Friday he heard about that town's swift water rescue team saving 12 lives in western North Carolina.

"We didn't have swift water capacity until five years ago," he said. "... Just about everybody has a swift water team now. During the aftermath of Hurricane Floyd, people came here from western North Carolina."