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Hurricane Florence Series: Barney Coe Road resident feels forgotten, waiting on assistance

By Erin Smith

As you drive down Barney Coe Road in the Lagoon community you can still see the devastation wrought by Hurricane Florence. Homes that were once bustling with activity are now quiet.

Gordon Lewis and his wife reside at the end of Barney Coe Road. Their home is almost hidden from view by two houses that were constructed in front of his mobile home. As you walk up to the home, you can see the devastation wrought by the flooding that occurred on the Cape Fear River.

He said he received two feet of water inside his home on Barney Coe Road. Lewis said following the storm, the power remained off in the community for more than two weeks due to the flooding.

Lewis said what was really hard was knowing that everything is a complete loss.

“You work hard all of your life to have something and all of a sudden, its gone,” said Lewis.

He retired from the Bladen County School Maintenance Garage and said he was looking forward to spending time at his home as well as enjoying his hobbies.

He said his home is located about one and one-half miles from the Cape Fear River. Lewis said he had no idea the river would get so high.  The river reached nearly 50 feet at the height of the flooding. He said the flood waters reached the intersection of Barney Coe Road and Phillup Road or about halfway to NC 53.

He said at one point following Hurricane Florence the flood waters were so deep that a boat oar could not reach the bottom. Lewis said it was heartbreaking to paddle in by boat to check on his residence and those of their friends and neighbors.

“I thought it was just going to be like a regular storm,” said Lewis.

In all, 22 residents in Lewis’ community lost their homes to Hurricane Florence. This was not the first storm to devastate the residents residing along Barney Coe Road.

He and his wife have been living with relatives since Hurricane Florence. Lewis said his home was flooded in Hurricane Matthew as well. He said he had two storage buildings filled with items he was able to salvage following Hurricane Matthew that were lost in Hurricane Florence.

Lewis said following the storm, the residents did not immediately see FEMA workers in their area. His aunt, Mary Whitchet, said Barney Coe is actually located in the Lagoon community. At one time in the past, Lagoon had its own post office. Once that post office closed, the residents were given a Kelly address.

Lewis explained that many people assumed he resided in the town of Kelly due to the address.

“People missed all of us,” said Lewis of the relief workers.

He said the Baptists on Mission came and assisted them in cleaning out the home. Lewis said the floors are gone and all of the sheetrock has been removed. Currently, he is working with the NC STEP program to try to get his home repaired and he is also waiting to learn if he qualified for any of the FEMA programs.

Lewis said, right now, he is waiting for the mold/mildew treatment to be completed before any more repairs can be made.

He added residents in the Barney Coe Road area felt forgotten following Hurricane Florence. As Lewis looked over his yard, he spotted one of his son’s football trophies gleaming in the afternoon sun. A reminder of better times.

Lewis said he is not giving up on residing on Barney Coe Road. He said repairs will take time, but he plans to remain in the neighborhood.

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