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New Bern Resident On Hurricane's Impact


We're going to go now to one community that has been under a mandatory evacuation order since Tuesday. It's the town of New Bern, N.C., a city of about 30,000 residents. And as the storm surged in, the rivers there have overflowed and swept into the town. Thousands are waiting for evacuation. And early this morning, the Twitter account for the city tweeted out the following, quote, "We have two out-of-state FEMA teams here for swift water rescue. More are on the way to help us. We are coming to get you" in all caps, it said. Sarah Risty-Davis was born and raised in New Bern. She is still there now. She has not evacuated. And she joins us on the line. Sarah, what's the situation? What are you seeing right now?

SARAH RISTY-DAVIS: We had pretty high floodwaters up until the early morning hours. And I'm not sure if it's a shift in wind or low tide, but the water has miraculously disappeared. So my little neighborhood's breathing a sigh of relief.

MARTIN: You say that your neighborhood is breathing a sigh of relief because the flood waters have receded, but the risk isn't over yet, right?

RISTY-DAVIS: Right. Yes. So nasty tides and things. We are, I guess, going to deal with it as it comes. I understand from reading posts that there were people on houses and rooftops and things in other neighborhoods. As far as I can tell here in Riverside, it has not been that bad. But, again, I'm speaking broadly. I don't know for everyone.

MARTIN: Do you have a game plan if the water does start to rise?

RISTY-DAVIS: Yeah, we'd go upstairs. You know, big tall, old houses - or even into the attic. It doesn't hurt that our property is the highest in the neighborhood. So, I mean, I think that gives us a bit of a sigh of relief. But I think we're going to stay put.

MARTIN: Right. So you know that when people disregard mandatory evacuation orders, it means that first responders often have to show up to get those people out of the situation. Has that gone into your calculus at all?

RISTY-DAVIS: So originally not, no. People that I had spoken to that were deciding to stay understood that, you know, fire and rescue and that sort of thing would not be dispatched. That was sort of the understanding that we were all willing to take. So we have all learned things.

MARTIN: But that - if things get really bad, fire and rescue, first responders are going to have to risk their own lives to come save yours.

RISTY-DAVIS: Right. And I know - I mean we did not think of that. I don't think a lot of us did. I think we were understanding that, by staying, we would not be able to call 911 if there was a fire in the kitchen or something. I mean, very honestly, Riverside has not even lost power during hurricanes. So in saying that we felt comfortable, I mean, this has always been a very safe and high neighborhood. And so I think that's what went through everyone's minds when we decided to stay.

MARTIN: Sarah Risty-Davis. She lives in New Bern, N.C. And she is hunkering down, waiting out the storm in her home. Thank you so much for talking with us, Sarah. Stay safe.

RISTY-DAVIS: Sure. Thanks so much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.