Local News

Architects Helping Building Inspectors Assess Damage Down East

Posted September 29, 1999

— The flood waters are down, but the damage is done to thousands of homes and businesses in the state.

FEMAfunding is on the way to help flood victims, but only after local building inspectors can make an official estimate of the damage.

Every home within four blocks of Sunset Park in Rocky Mount looks the same: hollowed-out homes with its contents sitting out on the curb.

Since last week, Graham Felton has been peeling back layers of plaster and insulation from his father's home. Even the kitchen sink sits out by the curb.

Assessing the damage is a daunting task, but inspectors are getting help from architects across the state.

Walt Teague is inspecting Felton's home, checking the foundation, walls and floors. He is one of 70 volunteers from theAmerican Institute of Architectsin North Carolina.

The group's mission is to help local inspectors assess the damage to flooded homes and businesses.

Some homes still have strong foundations on which to rebuild; others Teague has seen do not.

"You can notice right across here, the floor is already settled across here. You can see the settlement in the door frame here how it's racked," explains Teague.

Many homes will be condemned, and their families will relocate. Federal funding will help some people rebuild, but the process may move at a snail's pace because skilled help is in short supply.

"What you're seeing here is an absolute critical need for volunteers. There are cities and counties throughout this state who simply don't have the manpower," says Tim Kent, executive director of the American Institute of Architects.

Like those who are left to clean up the mess, inspectors and volunteers are simply doing the best they can.

In Pitt County, building inspectors working with volunteer architects have condemned approximately 4,000 homes.

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