Crystal and Ken Bird have lived just a couple miles from the beach in Swansboro, NC, their entire lives. Their family of 5 consists of their son, 2 daughters and 3 dogs. Life is peaceful in their coastal Carolina town. They enjoy spending time together and going to church as a family.
However, like many towns on the East Coast, their community was affected by Hurricane Florence in the early fall of 2018. With their son Logan working on a military base and their oldest daughter, Layne, just starting college - it was only Ken, Crystal and Erin, their youngest daughter, at home when the hurricane passed through their town.
They made it through Hurricane Florence
Hurricane Florence was hard to predict storm. As it made its way through the Atlantic Ocean and toward the coast it went from a category 5 storm down to a category 1. The Birds were faced with the decision whether to stay home or to evacuate before the storm hit. Ultimately, they decided to stay and prepared for the storm.
“Something in my mind told me not to go anywhere. It is hard to get back to our area if you leave,” Crystal said.
When the storm hit, it sat over their town for about 3 days with strong winds and flooding. At one point, Crystal and her family had to evacuate to their church, which was nearby. However, before they left they were able to grab things that were important to them such as family photographs, paperwork and their 3 dogs.
After the storm passed, everyone in the community went to assess the damage and to begin recovering for their town. Unfortunately, like many communities, their town suffered damage from the storm. Most homes had water and roof damage.
“It didn’t matter if your home was $100,000 or $400,000 - it was all the same,” said Crystal.
And then they began to rebuild
The Birds stayed at Crystal’s dad’s house - which fortunately did not suffer much damage because it was farther away from the coast. Phone companies gave free data to those who suffered from the storm, and they used the time to search for new homes online.
“We didn’t know what was going to happen next,” said Crystal, “But we found the home we wanted the very next day.”
While searching online, Crystal came across the Southern Belle. She knew this was the home for their family and began searching for where in her area it was available to tour.
Since it was a newer home model, availability was limited. However, Crystal went to the Clayton Homes of Hampstead. The home was not available on the lot to tour, but Crystal was able to tour a similar home. But then the Hampstead team surprised her. Crystal told them about the house she was really looking for.
“They said, ‘I think we can get you that house.’ My heart hit the floor. He worked with me to get exactly what I wanted,” said Crystal.
After making a couple calls and doing their research, the team at Hampstead was able to get the home the Birds had been searching for.
“I felt like it was meant to be. I had some faith. So many things happened that couldn’t have happened without some help,” said Crystal.
Their community came together and so did their home
The Swansboro community and friends of the Bird family came together in incredible ways to support one another during the difficult time. Crystal and Ken traveled to Richfield, NC, to tour the Southern Belle and when they returned home they found the exact amount of money needed to cover their stay in their mail. Another time, they had to get some work done to their old home in order to get their land ready for their new home. They didn’t tell anyone what was being done and came home to another check in the mail - with the exact amount they needed to cover the cost of the work.
“It is amazing how people come together during a time like that,” said Crystal.
The Southern Belle had everything their family wanted and more. Growing up, Crystal lived in a manufactured home and their previous home was also manufactured. And the Birds loved both the interior and exterior options the home offered.
“It has 9-foot ceilings. People are shocked. I probably couldn’t have found a stick built house I would want more,” said Crystal.
With the taller ceilings, dormers and front porch - their home has plenty of character!
The Birds worked with their home center on the customizations they wanted to make it their home. They added a real wood burning fireplace to their living room as well as added two additional windows in the kitchen so Crystal could look out at their pond while she cooks.
Ken, a carpenter, even requested a wood burning stove in the garage so that he could continue to create skateboards and other woodwork.
“Everyone that sees my house falls in love with it,” said Crystal. “I am so happy.”
You can check out homes similar to the Bird’s and more through virtual tours of the Southern Belle or other models or by contacting your local home center.