Sunday, January 23, 2022

After Matthew, Christmas celebrations muted but merry

— This Christmas was unlike any other for people still recovering from Hurricane Matthew. Among those who lost their homes, their cars and their jobs, there remained plenty who didn’t lose the Christmas spirit.

Peggy Brewington-Jacobs remembers clearly the flood of water that inundated her home on Cameron Road in Hope Mills during Hurricane Matthew.

“All of a sudden, a big wave hit me,” she said. “And I turn around to see the wave, and I’m waiting for it to come back out. Well, it kept coming. Then I jumped into my car, and by the time I got back to my car, the water was almost up to my knees.”

Seven feet of water poured in. The waterline made its mark halfway up the bay window in the den.

She celebrated Christmas at her sister’s house.

“We had a house full. (We) ate a lot,” she said.

But being the guest is the contrast, a delayed aftermath of the storm.

Brewington-Jacobs is used to being the holiday host.

“I usually cook hog jaws, collard greens, chitterlings,” she said. “Of course I have chicken and you name it. I have about 50 people over.”

Across town at the Mount Sinai Homes on Murchison Road, boxes from Christmas presents sat outside trash bins still stuffed with hurricane debris.

In October, there was a massive effort to remove everything damaged by the storm.

Sharriel Whitley put up a modest Christmas tree to celebrate. Hurricane Matthew brought the family together when they needed it the most.

​”They lost a lot of things in this flood so we have to replace them,” said relative Zareya Richardson.

That made Christmas harder, increasing the need. “They couldn’t get what they wanted for the kids,” Richardson said.

The storm has both families looking forward to the New Year.

On Richardson’s list: A year without a big storm.

“And hopefully I’ll be able to have a better Christmas, and basically be able to see 2018,” she said.

A special thank you to our friends at WRAL for helping out with this post.

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