One year after Matthew: Duplin County residents rebuild with new strength

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DUPLIN COUNTY, N.C. (WNCT)–For folks living in Duplin County, Hurricane Matthew brought flooding that destroyed homes, businesses and churches, many of them for a second, third and fourth time.

WNCT’s Elizabeth Tew revisited two places we first told you about a year ago.

Both Hallsville Presbyterian Church and Riverside Barn Antiques were destroyed by floodwaters after Hurricane Matthew. Both of them had to be rebuilt and folks at both places agree, their lives were forever changed.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. For Jenny and Aaron Cavenaugh, owners of Riverside Barn Antiques, these pictures are worth five times that.

“I would say we lost 95 to 99 percent of everything, Jenny Cavenaugh said. “It was not good. Curio cabinets were laid over. We had dishes and they floated. Some of the dishes might be in the back that belonged in the front and vice versa.”

In the last 22 years since they’ve been open, the store’s flooded four times.

After Hurricane Matthew, four feet of water poured in through the windows and the walls.

“You’re in shock,” Cavenaugh said. “I don’t think I had time to think.”

It took over five months to reopen as they waited for insurance, cleaned and bought new merchandise.

The same amount of time that it took the congregation of Hallsville Presbyterian Church to hold a Sunday service in their sanctuary again.

“We basically had to get everything out, cleaned and sanitized,” Pastor Mark Houston said.

Pastor Houston says 18 inches of water crept into the church for the second time since Hurricane Floyd.

“It had been a difficult time in the life of the church, particularly when Floyd came, and it brought back those memories,” Pastor Houston said.

Everything is replaced now, there’s new paint, new pews, and new carpeting.

“It was difficult,” Pastor Houston said. “It wasn’t easy, but we had folks in the community that helped us.”

Community support, it’s the one thing both places had in the aftermath.

“We have these walls and we have this restored, but had it not been restored we still have that faith and that’s what keeps us going,” Pastor Houston said.

“The Lord’s blessed us so much, and if His hand hadn’t been in it we couldn’t have come back,” Cavenaugh said.

Both the Cavenaughs and Pastor Houston say that’s what they want you to take away from their experiences. If you see someone who needs help, do all you can. They say you’ll be rewarded for it in the long run.

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