DISASTERS

An anxious journey to check on a flooded home, then relief

  • Elmer McDonald makes his way along a flooded street as he returns to his mobile home for the first time to inspect damage caused by floodwaters associated with Hurricane Matthew in Lumberton, N.C., on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016. McDonald and about 1,200 other Lumberton residents had to be evacuated by boat or plucked from their roofs by helicopters as the river crested. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)

    Elmer McDonald makes his way along a flooded street as he returns to his mobile home for the first time to inspect damage caused by floodwaters associated with Hurricane Matthew in Lumberton, N.C., on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016. McDonald and about 1,200 other Lumberton residents had to be evacuated by boat or plucked from their roofs by helicopters as the river crested. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)  (The Associated Press)

  • After coming across a Jeep surrounded by floodwaters associated with Hurricane Matthew,  Elmer McDonald inspects the interior to make certain nobody was inside as he makes his way through a strong current after checking on his own mobile home for the first time on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016, in Lumberton, N.C.  About 1,200 Lumberton residents had to be evacuated by boat and plucked from their roofs by helicopters as the river crested; McDonald was one of thousands who evacuated. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)

    After coming across a Jeep surrounded by floodwaters associated with Hurricane Matthew, Elmer McDonald inspects the interior to make certain nobody was inside as he makes his way through a strong current after checking on his own mobile home for the first time on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016, in Lumberton, N.C. About 1,200 Lumberton residents had to be evacuated by boat and plucked from their roofs by helicopters as the river crested; McDonald was one of thousands who evacuated. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)  (The Associated Press)

  • Janet Meier makes her way out of the floodwaters associated with Hurricane Matthew surrounding her home after retrieving a warm blanket and her laptop computer from her home on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016, in Lumberton, N.C.  About 1,200 Lumberton residents had to be evacuated by boat and plucked from their roofs by helicopters as the river crested. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)

    Janet Meier makes her way out of the floodwaters associated with Hurricane Matthew surrounding her home after retrieving a warm blanket and her laptop computer from her home on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016, in Lumberton, N.C. About 1,200 Lumberton residents had to be evacuated by boat and plucked from their roofs by helicopters as the river crested. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)  (The Associated Press)

Like many of his neighbors, Elmer McDonald was eager to get back to his home to see what was left after Hurricane Matthew.

The 36-year-old father of four had tried for days to return to his trailer in Lumberton, North Carolina. But each day, the current was too strong, the floodwaters too deep. He finally got inside Thursday to find that the trailer was mostly dry.

Every home on the street was encircled by brown water.

Many people throughout the flood zone do not have flood insurance. And for those who live mostly paycheck-to-paycheck, the aftermath of a storm can grind on for weeks and be financially devastating.

But for now, McDonald is celebrating. He used to complain that the trailer was small. Now, he says, he'll never complain again.