On September 15, 1999, Hurricane Floyd hit eastern North Carolina. The land we had previously known as the city of Rocky Mount and Nash and Edgecombe Counties became a series of islands surrounded by raging water. Once the waters receded, the vastness of the destruction became evident. Stories of heroism, love and caring were being shared but not recorded. During this time our new library was under construction. The Friends of Braswell Memorial Library decided to commemorate the opening by collecting these stories, the telling of which became part of the healing process. Maybe, in the reading and rereading of these recollections, we can discover what enables us to reach out to our neighbors in the face of great disaster but inhibits us from doing so in the course of normal, day-to-day living.
Despite our cultural and technological advances, humanity still must cope with the kind of devastating natural disasters that disrupted life in Pompeii on August 24, 79 A.D., and life in eastern North Carolina on September 15, 1999. Martha F. Johnson notes in her concluding essay: As the stories in this book reveal, we, like the victims of Pompeii, felt passionately about our families, our pets, and our community. Unlike the residents of Pompeii, however, we rebuilt our town after the Great Flood of 1999. If some natural disaster, historical event, or advance in transportation has overtaken us by the time you read this, we have merely moved to a more auspicious location and gone on with the business of living. But please do not forget the determination and passion with which we live.