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'It's Like an Episode of Survivor': Greensboro Neighbors Pleading for Answers After 'Freakish Flood'

Deidre James says the giant dumpster now in her front yard is a constant reminder of the flooding that ruined her home on Ashland Drive.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Deidre James starts to panic when she hears the sound of rain, not knowing if her home in Greensboro will flood again.

James and three of her neighbors on Ashland Drive suffered from severe flooding on July 31. Now almost two months later, they are still cleaning up, begging for answers and help from the community.

"The storm lasted less than a hour, but here we are two months later, and I am still emptying my home," said James.

A large dumpster sits in James' front yard. She said the City of Greensboro placed it there the day after the storm so she and her neighbors could easily empty their homes of belongings and debris ruined by floodwaters. So far, the dumpster has been emptied twice and the street is still not finished cleaning up.

"It's terrifying, it's scary, it's stressful, it's depressing to come home to a big blue dumpster," said James. "Sometimes strangers are going through it to get things from my home."

'Water was coming through the doors'

The night of July 31, James said rain turned into floodwaters that poured over West Wendover Avenue, which is elevated right behind her backyard. The water level quickly rose up her inclined back yard, pouring into her basement.

"The water got higher. As I kept checking my basement to see what was going on, my washing machine floated away. Lord have mercy, the water was coming through hard and fast. One of my windows was busted, water was coming through windows, water was coming through the doors," James recalled.

James said her HVAC system, hot water heater, washer and dryer were all destroyed by the floodwaters, not to mention a large collection of personal belongings.

Once James began assessing the damage, she realized her resources for recovery might be slim. She does not have flood insurance on her property, because her home is outside the 100 and 500 year floodplain, according to the flood risk map on flood.NC.gov.

She and her neighbors' properties on Ashland Drive are also not in a regulated floodplain on the City of Greensboro's Flood Risk Map.

"A question I get is, 'Won't your insurance take care of it?' We do not live in a flood zone, we are not in a flood plane, so we don't have flood insurance," said James, who said she has spent thousands of dollars so far patching up the damage.

Greensboro's Mayor has even visited the damage

James said she has been in contact with Greensboro City Council members, city staff, and Mayor Nancy Vaughan in an attempt to seek help and find out what caused the severe flooding July 31.

Mayor Nancy Vaughan confirmed with WFMY News 2 on Sunday that she visited James' home and toured the damage after the storm. Vaughan said some city staff members were not able to make it to the damage assessment because another storm was happening that day. The mayor said the city is continuing to work on floods that hit the City of Greensboro over the summer. 

James and her neighbors have concerns that storm drains from the City of Greensboro might be part of the reason the flooding was so severe that July 31st evening.

WFMY reached out to the City of Greensboro on Sunday to learn more about the storm drains on Ashland Drive, and we are still waiting to hear back.

'The worst I've ever seen'

Another neighbor, Jason Vincent, said the night of flooding ruined not only his personal belongings in his basement, but also numerous tools and machines he uses in his work as a contractor.

"Everything in my basement was essentially destroyed, it's the worst I've ever seen, had any personal connection to," said Vincent.

Vincent said there is now a fine layer of mysterious powder on his basement floor, dried from the muddy floodwaters that were there. He said the dust turns into a cloud when he tries to clean it up.

"If you sweep it, it turns into an instant cloud, and not knowing what's in that cloud, it's kind of scary to think about it," said Vincent.

The neighbors on Ashland Drive say they are open to any help from the community as they continue to clean up.

"I know Greensboro is strong, but we over here where I live right now, we could use some of that strength because right now are on our own," said James. "We are looking for hands, we are looking for strength, Greensboro Strong."