Hurricane Matthew: One Year Later — Lessons Learned in Chesapeake

NOTE: This is part five of a series looking back on Hurricane Matthew’s impact on the region. Read Part 1Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.


CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — There’s no doubt we learned lots of lessons in the year since Hurricane Matthew. The storm’s unexpected path took many by surprise.

All week we’ve been bringing you the stories of people still recovering from the storm. Tonight, we take a look at the impact on Chesapeake.

Hurricane Matthew victim Angela Wilson recalled what she witnessed, “It was devastating,” she said.

It was rain and flooding many had never witnessed before.

“My house flooded out horribly. The only thing I can think about is how this whole place was underwater,” Robert Anderson said.

Hurricane Matthew dumped rain on Hampton roads and northeast North Carolina in October 2016.  Days later as the water receded the cleanup began slowly.

“We’ve been rebuilding a piece at a time for over a year now,” Anderson told 10 On Your Side.

We first met Anderson last year, not long after the storm. He gave us a look inside his home then. Now a year later much of the work still isn’t complete.

“Still got to put in the flooring. One room of hard wood floors. I got two rooms of rug. I still don’t even have the walls up in my garage. One piece at a time,” Anderson explained.

Anderson says he got $8,000 from FEMA to help. But without flood insurance it’ll cost thousands more to completely fix his home.

“I work hard but I got bills. I got a mortgage. I got car payments all of that stuff so it’s just whatever extra I have goes and buys the next piece of sheetrock,” he said.

10 On Your Side was there in 2016 when the city of Chesapeake voted to give money to residents with extensive damage. That’s $2,000 Anderson says he never received.

Related: City Council approves money for Matthew aid

“The city said they didn’t get our application,” he said.

Angela Wilson lives one street over. Her home was also severely flooded. She too said she never got financial help from the city.

“It was mildew from the carpet being down so everything was wet, the refrigerator was turned upside down on the floor,” Wilson said.

The Wilsons are a military family and were renting their home out while they lived in Florida. 10 On Your Side did some digging and found out that may have been why they didn’t get the $2,000 from the city.

The money was designated for people living in damaged homes when Matthew hit. Now a year later, they’re still working to make repairs.

“We’re just trying to do it piece by piece,” Wilson said.

To further complicate their recovery, the Wilsons had a bad experience with a contractor.

“They did some work but when we called back and when we paid them they never contacted us back,” According to Wilson.

The family cancelled their flood insurance two months before the storm. The mother doesn’t even have a kitchen to cook for her children.

“You can’t really dwell on the what if now. You’ve just got to pick it up and move forward and try to get it done,” she said.

The city of Chesapeake said of those who has losses, 80 percent were without flood insurance. Many of them weren’t in a designated flood zone. The city’s response after the storm was unprecedented.

“For us it was a big operation on pumping out neighborhoods, responding to flooded cars in streets and things like that. New issues that we had never really encountered before in such a historic rain event,” Chesapeake Office of Emergency Management Deputy Coordinator Robb Braidwood said.

The city also realized through Matthew that there weren’t enough pumps.They’re now looking to purchase more. Another lesson in the storm was the use of social media and the need to better integrate it into the emergency response.

“We were interacting with citizens through social media from a response standpoint but also through a recovery standpoint,” Braidwood explained.

Not if but when another storm comes our way, here’s what the people who experienced the wrath of Matthew want you to know.

“You need to make a preparedness plan,” Braidwood said.

“Have flood insurance even if you think you don’t need it,” Wilson told 10 On Your Side.

“Really pay attention to what your homeowners insurance will take care of,” Anderson advises.

Click HERE for the FEMA Fact Sheet on purchasing flood insurance.


Related Coverage of Matthew: