Relatives remember ‘phenomenal’ NC woman who drowned during Hurricane Matthew

Isabelle Ralls

GODWIN, N.C. (WNCN) – An 81-year-old Godwin woman who drowned in the days after Hurricane Matthew is being remembered as a fighter who showed extraordinary strength during her life.

Isabelle Ralls survived cancer, triple bypass surgery and kidney failure in her 81 years.

But last weekend, relatives said she left her glasses behind in a panic and drove for the first time in more than a year as high winds and heavy rainfall tackled Eastern North Carolina.

Long-time friend Carolyn LeBlond alerted police after Ralls called her nephew asking for help.

A church member then went to Ralls’ home the next day and noticed something odd.

“The door was open, the candles were burning where she had no power and the house was wide open,” Leblond said.

On October 10, authorities found Ralls inside her car in a swamp across from the then breached Rhodes Pond.

“The only thing that’s gone is her body. My mother is still here you know,” said Elvia Abdussamadi.

Ralls, a native of Godwin, spent many years working as a caregiver and served in the Peace Corp.

But it was at Spring Hill Baptist Church where Ralls served faithfully as a Sunday school teacher and church historian.

“Her life was trying to learn and understand the word of God,” Abdussamadi said.

Ralls is remembered for being a fighter and showing extraordinary strength.

Family members say she survived cancer, triple bypass surgery and kidney failure.

Loved ones call her a “phenomenal woman”

“Her spirit is here, thoughts and values will always still be with me,” Abdussamadi said.

Ralls’ funeral is scheduled for Wednesday in Erwin.

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