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Inside a town in North Carolina where only the poorest parts flood

Why one family decided not to leave.

by Roberto Ferdman
Sep 18 2018, 1:04am

LUMBERTON, North Carolina — Residents in Lumberton, one of the poorest towns in the United States, hadn't yet recovered from the last hurricane when Florence barreled in last week, dumping record amounts of rain and flooding towns throughout the state.

Two years ago, a third of Lumberton was flooded after Hurricane Matthew hit, and many of the town’s residents were still recovering when they learned they were getting hit again.

"Mother Nature is Mother Nature," said Corey Walters, the deputy director of Lumberton's public works. "If it blows it out, we've made all the preparations we can for it to not be as bad as Matthew."

As the the storm passed over, April McCall and her family, who have lived in Lumberton for over 30 years, opened their home for an inside look at what it’s like enduring constant flooding when you don’t have the means to repair what’s lost.

"Today I think we are more prepared for this flooding, so we as a family are going to be right here," McCall said as she and her family prepared their home for the storm.

Their home, which was built by McCall's late father, is on the “wrong side of the tracks,” the southern part of the city, which is both the poorest and first to flood. And despite their careful preparations, the McCalls ended up evacuating anyway as their part of town flooded all over again.

"It's a marathon, and we're nowhere close to the end of it. A lot of people left after Matthew. There's going to be even more people leaving after this, I think," Walters said.

But even though her home flooded again this year, McCall won't be one of them. "I don't think we would leave it. Get the water out, start over," she saidThis segment originally aired September 17, 2018 on VICE News Tonight on HBO.