CORRECTION: This article was updated at 12:22 p.m. Tuesday Sept., 2021, to correct the location of one of the homes. It was also corrected previously to accurately report the first names of one of the subjects.
MOREHEAD CITY — There are still at least 254 Carteret County families waiting for home repairs three years after Hurricane Florence devastated the Crystal Coast with flooding rains and wind, according to a nonprofit group assisting with recovery efforts.
“There are still a lot of people struggling and they need help,” Kay Coole, chairperson of Carteret Long Term Recovery Alliance, said Wednesday.
There are residents like Sheila Moore, 58, of Morehead City, whose mobile home flooded when a section of the roof came off during the storm, which struck Sept. 14-15, 2018.
“We lost our furniture and there was a lot of damage,” Ms. Moore said Wednesday as she watched volunteers with CLTRA repair a section of flooring in her single-wide trailer in Ballou Mobile Home Park. “We sprayed down our furniture and have been living here because we didn’t have anywhere to go. I didn’t have insurance.”
As well as facing the long wait for home repairs, Ms. Moore, a certified nursing assistant at Brookdale, is dealing with her husband being in hospice in the final stages of cancer.
“My son is with me,” she said. “I just feel good that they (CLTRA) are helping me. I am thankful they could get to us.”
James Buckingham, who helps oversee volunteer work teams with CLTRA, said the reality for Ms. Moore, and many others who live in older mobile homes that sustained damage, is the dwellings are not 100% repairable.
“A lot of these trailers were built back in the 70s and are past their life expectancy,” he said. “More than half of the work we do is for deterioration. All we can do is fix them enough to be inhabitable. We’re covering floor areas where they have collapsed. In most cases it would be cheaper for them to purchase a new mobile home, but many of these folks can’t afford that.”
With help from CLTRA volunteers, Ms. Moore is applying for help through the Homeowner Recovery Program of ReBuild NC, a program established by the state Office of Recovery and Resiliency to help homeowners repair, reconstruct or elevate homes damaged by hurricanes that have hit the North Carolina coast in recent years. The program is part of a comprehensive plan to distribute federal Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery funds within North Carolina’s hardest hit communities.
Ms. Coole said the goal is to make Ms. Moore’s current home safer while they guide her through the application process and hopefully get her a new mobile home.
“We have several survivors in similar situations,” Ms. Coole said.
Another individual still waiting for extensive repairs is Donna Werner, who lives with her daughter and four grandchildren in a single-wide trailer in Dutch Treat Mobile Home Park in Newport.
Ms. Werner and her family lived in a mobile home next to the one she is currently living in. Hurricane Florence completely destroyed her former residence, causing it to be condemned. While she received some funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Ms. Werner said she had to use those funds to have the condemned trailer removed from the lot.
She and her family temporarily rented a small trailer while her late partner, Mark, tried to make repairs to the one they are currently living in, which was also damaged during Hurricane Florence.
Her late partner was able to get a new roof on the 1985 trailer, which they purchased prior to moving in. However, there is still extensive damage to the home. There’s no ceiling in one of the children’s bedrooms. There are holes in the floor and electrical damage. There’s no functioning heating system and there is black mold in one of the bathrooms.
Sadly, Ms. Werner’s partner died since the storm hit, and she is currently working as a waitress at IHOP in Morehead City. She had previously worked at Golden Corral in Morehead City, which closed down during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ms. Coole said CLTRA got a preliminary estimate on repairs for the trailer and Mr. Buckingham had planned to do a walk through of the trailer last week. Since Ms. Werner did not own the mobile home when Hurricane Florence hit, she doesn’t qualify for help through ReBuild NC.
“A requirement of ReBuild NC is that you had to own your home when the storm hit,” Ms. Coole said.
Ms. Werner said she has applied for help through numerous agencies and has been turned down for assistance.
“I was shot down so much that I gave up,” she said. “I just want a little help for my electric and to make my home safe. I’m grateful for any help I can get.”
Ms. Coole said there are other families in similar situations, but because CLTRA is a nonprofit volunteer organization, it depends on donations and willing laborers. The group has fought several obstacles to keep repairs going, including losing volunteers during the pandemic and a lack of donations to purchase supplies and materials.
“We need volunteers and donations,” Ms. Coole said. “Now that COVID restrictions have lifted some, we have a few work teams from other places scheduled this fall, but what we need are local volunteers for the long term. We need work teams, but also need volunteers to help with administrative tasks. We also need donations to purchase the materials.”
Those interested in volunteering can email Ms. Coole at email@example.com.
Those interested in donating toward supplies and materials can mail checks, made out to CLTRA, P.O. Box 543, Morehead City, NC 28557. They can also donate online at unitedwaycoastalnc.org/civicrm/contribute/transact?reset=1&id=27. Click on the Carteret Long Term Recovery Alliance link.
Contact Cheryl Burke at 252-726-7081, ext. 255; email Cheryl@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @cherylccnt.