PENDER COUNTY, NC (WECT) – Canned goods, clothes, a portable toilet, flashlights and a cot are as close to home as one woman living near Burgaw can get these days.
“It is the worst,” said Cheryl, who did not want to give her last name. “I don’t know if I can put it into words and I know there are a lot of people like me that have lost everything.”
Cheryl has been living in an 8×8 tent next to her waterlogged home for more than a month after Hurricane Florence. Prior to the hurricane, she lived in the elevated home on the Cape Fear River for more than a decade.
“It was like a giant came in there and threw things around and spewed out mud everywhere,” Cheryl said. “It was devastating to me.”
She left to go be with family in Winston-Salem before the storm hit, but came back to find she couldn’t live in her home.
Then, she took refuge outside in a tent.
“I have have no concept of time anymore,” Cheryl said. “I have no idea how long I’ve been out here. It broke my heart to lose my home. I love it up there.”
Cheryl says every day there is a challenge. Trying to keep her balance inside, dealing with wind and rain, having minimal light, water leaks, and of course no running water or power are a few of the struggles she faces.
“What I am afraid of now is the cold,” she said. “There is a great part of me that loves being out here, but it’s very difficult. There is something constantly to do, and I’m always up and down preparing for the night.”
She stores canned goods under her donated cot next to her shoes and clothes. She heats everything on a propane stove, has no ice, and goes to the bathroom inside her tent on a portable toilet.
“Before I had that, I was using two buckets, one for each function. It’s awful,” she said. “This is just too long of a camping trip.”
As difficult as each day can be, Cheryl is taking it one day at a time.
“I do my best,” she said. “I try to eat healthy, and get plenty of exercise. This is life for me.”
On Thursday, volunteers with the N.C. Baptist Men brought Cheryl a long extension cord so she could hook up a portable space heater since the weather is set to turn colder.
“I have so much help and love from those volunteers and my family too,” Cheryl said. “I am so glad they are here for me. They keep me going.”
Cheryl said FEMA offered her money and told her she could move into a trailer at a commercial site, but that could be 30-50 miles from her home.
For now, she is going to stay put as the N.C. Baptist Men work to tear out her waterlogged home.
“I just wish people would not forget there are people like me out there, hundreds that are suffering and need help,” she said.
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