The aftermath of Hurricane Matthew was present in Tarboro as we tried to drive into the town. Sections of Highway 64 were blocked due to flooding from the Tar River and the National Guard stood by the blocked sections, advising drivers to take detours through town. We followed the line of cars into downtown Tarboro with the cloudy weather accentuating the gloom that hung over the town.
The cloudy weather became cloudier until rain ushered us into a coffee shop. The Tarboro Coffee House sits at the corner of East Church Street and North Main Street in downtown Tarboro. Stepping into the shop, I was surrounded by the comforting smell of freshly brewed coffee and the buzz of families stopping by for hot chocolates or scoops of ice cream. I opted for some ice cream myself and ordered a scoop of the Hershey’s Cappuccino Crunch to satisfy both my coffee craving and need for something sweet.
Lauren, Abbey, and I chose a seat near the front of the store, overlooking the rain on Main Street. I flipped through the local paper, which brought the extend of the flooding into new light. Hurricane Matthew didn’t just close off a few streets; a number of homes near the river had been destroyed by the flooding. Tarboro hadn’t even been hit the hardest. Towns all along the Tar River suffered damages due to the flooding caused by the hurricane. Tarboro High School became a refuge for the residents of nearby Princeville and American Red Cross Shelters had been set up across the town. The hurricane had occurred almost two weeks prior, but the communities were still feeling the impacts. The Tar River Times reported the damages to be over $1 million dollars in order to repair the nearly 50 condemned homes and the destroyed roads along the river.
I finished my ice cream and looked out at the rain that now seemed to be only a drizzle. I could see flyers posted about fundraising for the families impacted by the hurricane. We hadn’t been nearly as affected back at Elon, 135 miles to the west. The few days of rain were an inconvenience at most. We had nowhere near the damage that Tarboro was facing. After the coffee and ice cream, Lauren, Abbey, and I drove back to see the damage near the road closure. The National Guard didn’t seem too keen on us slowing down to survey the road, but we could still see places where the road had broken off and water still remained.
To continue on our journey, we had to drive on one section of road that was cracked in half across both lanes. We had passed this crack on the way into town, thinking it was almost chasm-like. Now, it didn’t seem like any more than a fracture in the road.