Hurricane Matthew: One Year Later — A Family Rebuilds

North Carolina Highway 12 sustained major overwash and flooding as Hurricane Matthew surged through the region from Oct. 8 - 9, 2016. Credit: WAVY/Greg Gadberry

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — All week, 10 On Your Side is taking a look back at the impact of Hurricane Matthew.

The storm devastated the Outer Banks. Across the state, 25 deaths were blamed by Matthew. The state asked for more than $900 million in federal aid, but got only 1 percent of that requested funding.

Matthew tore through northeast North Carolina, causing widespread damage from rain and a strong storm surge. It left thousands powerless.

Officials estimated the storm caused $52 million in damages to Dare County alone.

Now, a year later, many have still not yet fully recovered.

“You could hear the wind switch and all of a sudden you knew it was coming,” said Hurricane Matthew victim Ashley Jackson, thinking back to that time.

Matthew brought howling wind, torrential downpours, and a massive storm surge. It’s a storm that won’t soon be forgotten because of its uncertain path and its long-lasting impacts.

“By the time we got those predictions, evacuations couldn’t take place any longer because we were already seeing the impacts of the storm,” Dare County Emergency Management Director Drew Pearson said.

“It was overwhelming. It took me a while to even process what was going on,” Jackson said.

Inside the newly opened Dare County emergency operations center, Pearson showed 10 On Your Side the storm’s historic path.

“Hurricane Matthew was a storm that changed a lot,” he said.

Pearson explained that an inoperable emergency alert notification system in Dare County made communication difficult.

North Carolina officials discuss Hurricane Matthew recovery

“If it had been we probably could have done a better job of getting that changing information to the citizens that were going to be impacted,” he said.

Kevin and Ashley Jackson showed 10 On Your Side how water destroyed their home on Hatteras Island. They shared video showing what appeared to be a lake that was taken from their front porch.

“To know that we were going to have to start all over and not really knowing how we were going to do that was difficult,” Jackson said.

Pictures taken after the water receded show the extent of the damage.

“We lost all of our furniture. We lost all of our couches and chairs. Everything in the kitchen went. We lost most of our pots and pans and dishes things like that. All of the appliances throughout the house,” Ashley said.

Jackson moved pictures and important documents ahead of the storm, so it’s safe now. However photos tell only part of their story.

The young family was out of their home 10 months. With the insurance payout, a grant and a loan it has already cost the Jacksons $190,000 to rebuild. That’s a cost that may continue to add up because their home is still incomplete.

“We had a bad go around with a contractor and lost a lot of money,” Jackson explained. “It’s been a roller coaster.”

Since Matthew, the Jackson home has been lifted 12 and a half feet in the air. Hopefully to prevent flooding from ever happening again. Many homes on their street have also been lifted.

As the Jackson family walked through their neighborhood Jackson said of a neighbor, “They got water and ended up redoing their house.”

There are many lessons learned from Matthew.

“I would make sure that our insurance policies, I know exactly the details of them. I know who to call. I would make sure I have those numbers on hand,” Jackson said about leaving the area if another storm came their way.

However the most important message could apply to us all.

“Whether it’s here in Dare County, the Tidewater area or anywhere in our nation,” Pearson explained. “Every hurricane season our citizens and our visitors need to be ready, even if the storm is forecast not to develop,” he said.

Jackson is not only a disaster survivor, she led recovery efforts in Frisco helping others get back on their feet even though her own home had been destroyed.


This is part two of a series looking back on the impact of Hurricane Matthew. See part one here.