BURGAW, NC (WWAY) — Last year the Pender patriots went 1-10 after a season interrupted by Hurricane Florence. They’re hoping to improve this year under the leadership of some strong senior players.
One of those seniors suffered more damage than most during Florence, but he knew who to turn to when he needed a band of brothers.
Watching how tough Senior Trey Swinson is on the field, you’d never know the heartache at home that brought him to his knees a year ago. The same goes for his freshman brother, Chandler.
“The house got flooded in the hurricane,” Candler said. “There was seven feet of water in the yard, four feet in the house.”
The boys and their parents had left their home along Highway 53 in Burgaw to ride out Florence with relatives. Water from the Cape Fear River kept rising and at the height of the flooding, it nearly reached the rooftop.
“When the water got up it stayed there for like a week, almost two weeks and then we come back as soon as the water got off the road,” Chandler said.
The boys kicked in the door and the family quickly realized they’d have to leave their un-inhabitable house, tear it down, and rebuild. They grabbed what they could salvage, and moved into a camper, where they’re still living today while their home is being rebuilt. Trey says just finding clothes to wear was overwhelming.
“I had to wash them, I had to clean them up to where I could wear them, just to go to practice,” Trey said. “And when I got there, my teammates helped me go through it, they’re supposed to be a second family.”
Pender High Math Teacher Matt Davis is also athletic director. He’s making sure the whole football team acts as a second family, and helps the Swinsons move into their new home.
“I’m sure that whatever help Trey and Chandler need, like I said, they’re real close to their buddies on the team, I’m sure that our guys will be right there to help ’em out,” Davis said.
The new house is in place, undergoing final inspections. It’s also raised higher off the ground and able to stay there if the river rises again.
“It’s about 13 feet 10 inches off the ground,” Trey said. “If that water’s that high, then Burgaw’s gone, pretty sure.”
The Swinsons gather strength from their friends and their teammates and can’t wait to walk into their new home most likely on Monday, nearly a year to the day after moving out.
They’re confident their teammates will be walking beside them no matter where they are.
“It kind of gives me like a sense of calmness cause I know that somebody’s gonna help me no matter what I’m going through,” Chandler said.
Both Trey and Chandler play football, wrestle, and run track.
Trey hopes to go to college next year but if he doesn’t get an athletic scholarship, he has other work plans.
His little brother Chandler hopes to play football at Clemson in four years.