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Eddie Jones, one of the district chiefs of Rocky Mount's fire department, recounts some of the experiences had by first responders during and after Hurricane Floyd. The city's preparations were mostly directed toward the threat of high winds. City employees worked long shifts during the storm. Chief Jones discusses the early calls that came in near the beginning of the storm, which mostly had to do with rising river levels and some water in basements. At that time, people were hesitant to evacuate. As the night wore on, the number of emergency calls became overwhelming. Rescues began shortly after midnight. The fire department didn't own any boats, so they had to use the community's. They were able to assemble a "fleet" of boats. Chief Jones details his first round of rescues, which took place in the Lafayette neighborhood. He discusses the difficulties they faced, including rising and rushing water, blocked roads, falling trees, and wind. He then talks about rescues in the Riverside area, where people from the community were already working to rescue others. The rescue efforts there took sixteen hours, and there were an estimated 400 people in the area, including children and senior citizens. During this time, the water in some places was rising at a rate of eighteen inches per hour. Chief Jones recalls how first responders had to deal with many medical problems in the field because roads to the hospital were blocked by water. After the first 24 hours, a FEMA team made it to Rocky Mount, as well as military helicopters. In the days immediately following the storm, Chief Jones and his team had to tell people not to go out and look around the city, because they were putting themselves in danger of the floodwater currents and contaminations. He tells a story of two men who went to check on their business. Their car was swept away, and they were stranded in a tree for almost a full day before being rescued. Chief Jones talks about how the city of Rocky Mount now knows a lot more about what that much water (23 inches) can do. He also discusses the emotional toll the storm had on firefighters and the community in general. He says that, although the flood slowed down the city's economic and cultural progress, they will be okay with time and patience, and the city will come out stronger.





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