Track of Hurricane Floyd.

Hurricane Floyd, 1999

Aerial photograph of inland flooding caused by Hurricane Floyd.

J. Jordan of the US Army Corps of Engineers.

The Flood of the Century, the 500-Year Flood, Hurricane Floyd. It remains the single greatest disaster in North Carolina’s history. This mammoth storm was twice the size of a normal hurricane, but the true devastation began after the storm had passed.

North Carolinians went to sleep the night after the storm only to wake with flood waters lapping over their bedsides. Floyd’s torrential rains had produced record-breaking flooding. Rivers rose over 20 feet above flood stage. Entire towns were underwater, the residents trapped on rooftops.

Their homes destroyed, thousands of people crowded into shelters with no food or electricity. Many braved the waters to rescue those left behind. Others did not return. On the tenth anniversary of this disaster, we remember their stories.

Floyd Statistics
Storm Type:
Cat. 4
Total Deaths:
NC Deaths:
Total Cost:
$7.8 billion
NC Landfall:
Cape Fear
NC Wind Speed:
104 mph
NC Storm Surge:
10 ft
NC Rainfall:
20 in
NC Pressure:
28.05 in
Floyd Timeline
Sept 05 Hurricane Dennis finally leaves NC after hitting the state twice in a week.
Sept 08 Tropical Storm Floyd forms in the Atlantic Ocean.
Sept 14 Floyd makes landfall over the Bahamas as a strong Category Four hurricane.
Sept 15 Floyd weakens to Category Two; Rain begins to fall in NC.
Sept 16 Floyd makes landfall at Cape Fear early in the morning.
afternoon Floyd weakens to Category One over Virginia; Tornados touch down in Carteret and Pamlico Counties.
evening Floyd weakens to a tropical storm over the New Jersey coast.
night Flooding begins in NC.
Sept 17 1,500 people have been rescued from flood waters.
morning Floyd becomes extratropical over the Maine coast.
evening Greenville loses power.
Sept 18 3,500 people have been rescued from flood waters.
Sept 19 Floyd merges with weather over the North Atlantic and is no longer a distinct storm.
Sept 20 FEMA opens disaster recovery centers; Tar River crests at 41.5 feet in Tarboro, 22.5 feet above flood stage.
Sept 21 Tar River crests at 29.7 feet in Greenville, 16.7 feet above flood stage; Greenville loses running water.
Sept 22 "FEMA City" opens in Rocky Mount.
Sept 23 Neuse River crests at 27.7 feet in Kinston, 13.7 feet above flood stage.
Sept 29 Classes resume at East Carolina University.
End of Sept. Flood waters finally recede from Princeville.
Oct 17 Neuse River still above flood stage when Hurricane Irene hits.

All dollar amounts have been adjusted for inflation as of 2009.