Local News

Cumberland County benefits from FEMA aid after Matthew

Posted April 5

— In the weeks after Hurricane Matthew, FEMA started taking applications for aid.

As of March 30, FEMA has paid out nearly $97 million to 81, 500 families in North Carolina alone. A large chunk of those are in Cumberland County, where nearly $15,000 families registered and have received nearly $16 million dollars.

Paul White grew up in the house in the Southwood neighborhood in Cumberland County. Hurricane Matthew destroyed about two dozen homes here and left gaping sink holes in a couple of backyards.

Six months ago White was battling flood water. Today he's fighting termites determined to eat the wood he's using to make repairs

"No one can live in their houses down here,"White said. "A lot of them are still vacant and abandoned. And we're still juggling between paying mortgages and rent at the same time. And it's just very, very frustrating."

"Now FEMA gas paid to make repairs on a number of homes. But for those who do not qualify for state and federal funding, many are dependent on help from volunteers and religious organizations.

"When we first got here, these street were lined with debris," Evans said.

That was the case in many Cumberland County neighborhoods. To most... this looks like trash. To the people who lost it... it was everything.

"Your memorabilia, your life saving's furniture of your future, your past, it's all being set up on the street to be thrown away," Don Evans, United Methodist Church Site coordinator said.

Evans has done this a lot. He's the Site Coordinator for the North Carolina Methodist Church Builders.

All these workers are volunteers. They come from all parts of the country. Since Matthew hit six months ago... the group has cleaned out about 125 homes. They're rebuilding six right now... and they made it possible for three families to move back in.

"That is what we're here for," Evans said. "Is the smile on the face and a big tear from the eye when they see the things that they had back in some form of normalcy," Evans said.

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