09/03/06 — Post Ernesto: Still some water, but few threats expected downriver

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Post Ernesto: Still some water, but few threats expected downriver

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on September 3, 2006 2:05 AM

Tropical Storm Ernesto might have left the state, but the effects of its fury are still being felt in Goldsboro and other neighboring communities.

Elizabeth Hollowell and her two young children, Blade and Annie, got a chilling wake-up call at 2 a.m. Saturday when a rain-drenched tree uprooted. The tree smashed the front of her car and mobile home, which is located in the C&K Mobile Home Park on Old Smithfield Road.

"I was terrified," the 46-year-old widow and mother of three said. "I was scared to death."

Her mobile home located at 103 Peggy Lane shook as the tree fell on top, but her children did not utter a peep. She bolted to their room, prepared to discover the worse.

"They were sitting up hugging each other, afraid to move," she said.

Hollowell lost her husband, Frankie, to cancer on Christmas in 2004. It was the same day as her birthday. So, she breathed a huge sigh of relief when she discovered her children were OK.

"I just buried my husband and to turn around and bury my kids, too. I couldn't handle it," she said.

Hollowell did not have home insurance. She lost everything and has nowhere to go. The local Red Cross will cover her hotel stay until Thursday, but after that she does not where she will end up.

Hollowell is praying for a miracle.

Tropical Storm Ernesto did not do much damage in Florida and Georgia. Weather forecasters say the brunt of the storm was felt in North Carolina. Weather officials said Goldsboro received 4.5 inches of rain. Nearby Duplin received a foot of rain in some areas.

Stoney Creek overflowed and converted Stoney Creek park and a daycare center playground into a temporary swimming pool.

Cogdell Pond dam broke, causing a large sinkhole on U.S. 70 West in the eastbound lane between Perkins Mill and Claridge Nursery roads. The eastbound lane was closed and rerouted.

The eastbound lane remained closed Saturday night. The heavy equipment was still parked at the location, but no crews were on duty.

More than 7,000 people within seven counties were left with power after the storm, including 5,000 customers in Wayne County. Progress Energy crews worked feverishly through the night Friday and into the afternoon Saturday trying to restore power to customers. Keith Westbrook, operations manager, said power had been restored to everyone by 4 p.m. Saturday.

Stoney Creek runs past the rear of Kitty Askins Hospice on Wayne Memorial Drive. The water level crept up to about eight feet away from the back door, but it wasn't close enough to prompt an evacuation.

With the memory of Hurricane Floyd in 1999 still fresh, healthcare officials and volunteers kept a close eye on the water level.

Hospice Center President Dean Lee said Wayne Memorial Hospital officials reserved 12 hospital beds just in case.

"Our concern is when Floyd came in 1999, the water was up to the door handle," Lee said. "The concern is the same way, so we're monitoring the situation."

Facility Nurse Manager Debbie Denlinger began placing small orange and silver flags into the water to monitor the water level at about 6:45 a.m. Friday. Volunteer Paul Anderson continued to put new flags in the water every hour. The water level had begun to recede by 1 p.m.

"It's moving fast, and it's dropping, so we're happy," Anderson said.

Water was not receding much at Stoney Creek Park in Goldsboro, however.

The park remained mostly underwater Saturday after rising water levels caused city officials some concern Friday during the worst of the storm.

Several businesses in the Barnyard Shopping Center also continued their cleanup efforts today, after rising waters in a nearby creek damaged their shops Friday.