Hurricane Matthew and animal adventures

The year 2016 saw the loss of a former Havelock commissioner, as well as two tropical systems. Meanwhile, a cat that had been missing for four years was returned to a former Havelock family.

Hurricane Matthew

Hurricane Matthew skirted Florida, made landfall in South Carolina and then moved up into eastern North Carolina on Oct. 8 and 9.

The storm knocked down trees and knocked out power in many places in Havelock, with a peak wind of 64 mph recorded. Many residents spent the next day picking up limbs and debris from their yards. Some residents were without power for a couple of days. Only isolated flooding was reported in eastern Craven County.

The storm did not produce high rainfall totals in the Havelock area with just 2.20 inches, but farther inland, more than 12 inches of rain fell, causing massive flooding in areas including Kinston, western Craven County, Goldsboro and Lumberton.

Matthew was the second tropical system to hit Havelock in 2016. Tropical Storm Hermine made landfall as a hurricane in Florida but weakened as it moved up the East Coast into eastern North Carolina on Sept. 2 and 3, putting a damper on three-day Labor Day weekend.

Hermine dropped more than 5 inches of rain in Havelock, producing some street flooding in low-lying areas of Havelock. The highest wind gust in Havelock was 37 mph, below tropical storm force of 40 mph.

Jim Stuart dies

Jim Stuart, a former Havelock commissioner and longtime aircraft curator for the Eastern Carolina Aviation Heritage Foundation, died Feb. 17, just a day before his 72nd birthday.

Stuart retired as a master sergeant in the Marine Corps in 1982 and then worked as an aircraft quality assurance specialist for 22 years at Cherry Point. The Vietnam veteran had resigned his seat on both the city board and as curator for the aviation foundation in July of 2015 after he had a stroke in the fall of 2014. Stuart had been recuperating at the N.C. State Veterans Home in Kinston until his death.

Garage gator

A Craven County couple came home to find an alligator in their garage.

Allan and Sharon Laque, of Coree Way, near Catfish Lake Road, found the 4-foot reptile in the garage on July 12 and immediately called 9-1-1. The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission sent game wardens to capture the animal, which was relocated to a place away from human activity.

Officials say such contacts are more common as alligators, which are protected, continue to increase in eastern North Carolina.

Cat missing four years returned

Robert and Jennifer Connell of North Dakota, were reunited with their cat that had been missing for four years after it was found wandering around Cherry Point.

The Connell family was living on base in 2011 when the cat, named Hemi, got loose and never returned. The family later moved to North Dakota. However, the cat had a microchip, and when it was found and turned in to animal services, the family was tracked down. After a bit of fundraising and the support of a friend in Fayetteville, the cat was sent to North Dakota for a reunion with the Connells.