Princeville family not letting destruction from Matthew ruin holiday traditions

Debris lays scattered in Princeville (Ali Warshavsky/CBS North Carolina)
Debris lays scattered in Princeville (Ali Warshavsky/CBS North Carolina)

PRINCEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — Michelle Cherry’s mother Dorothy had been living in her home on Church Street in Princeville for 38 years before Hurricane Matthew hit North Carolina.

flooding-photos
CLICK FOR MORE PHOTOS OF NC FLOODING AND DAMAGE FROM HURRICANE MATTHEW

“It still feels like home even with the all the walls torn out,” said Cherry.

The home is where she celebrated holidays and made a lot of memories—something the Tar River couldn’t wash away following Hurricane Matthew, even if it took “Mommy Dot’s” house.

CLICK FOR FULL COVERAGE OF HURRICANE MATTHEW

“I’m the matriarch. We used to have a big Thanksgiving dinner…the turkey, the stuffing,” said Dorothy White.

Her three kids, nine grandchildren and 28 great-grandchildren won’t be able to come to Mommy Dot’s for Thanksgiving or Christmas this year as she rebuilds. This isn’t the first time flood waters forced her out of her home during the holidays.

“When Floyd happened, we were told his was a 100-year flood, a 500-year flood, there wasn’t a question that we would rebuild, that we could be able to go home. For it to happen again, it was unreal,” said Cherry.

Now the family is relying on volunteer’s from Samaritan’s Purse, who helped get her home cleared out, and funding from FEMA to help rebuild once again.

“The kids, the grandkids, this is their legacy, this is where they came from” White said.

Even though they won’t be home for the holidays, White said she is thankful for the volunteers who gave her hope and for her daughter who will host Thanksgiving this year, so they can all be together.

“As long as she can make her cornbread stuffing at my house, we will be OK,” said Cherry.

This isn’t the only loss the family has suffered this year. White’s husband – Cherry’s father – passed away this year.

The home next door to White’s was her sister’s, which was also destroyed in the flood.

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