Lowland, N.C. — Unsafe living conditions, mold, mosquitoes and flies are the realities Pamlico County residents are dealing with more than three weeks after Hurricane Irene struck.
Wendy Mayo started looking for neighbors who needed help the day after Irene hit the county with heavy rains and flooding.
"Sometimes the hardest part is deciding who gets helps first today," Mayo said. "When you ride by and you see all this debris on the side of the road, it's almost like people's lives laying on the side of the road."
A volunteer not associated with any agency, Mayo has spent every day since the hurricane struck on Aug. 27 patrolling the roads of Pamlico County, assessing people's needs and getting them help.
"You stop at someone's house, and they say, 'My neighbor needs help more than me. Go help them first,'" she said.
Mayo's found that almost everyone in the Pamlico community of Lowland needs help.
Mark Voliva, his girlfriend and her 5-year-old son are living in a tent in their backyard. Flooding left the floor of their home looking like Swiss cheese.
"We're trying to pick up the pieces right now and figure out what to do," Voliva said.
An 87-year-old man was living alone in a house where visible mold was growing on his TV, Mayo said.
Nearby, mold drove Beverly Brousard out of her home. She fell through the floor while trying to get clothes out of her house.
"You never get that (mold) smell out of them," Brousard said.
She's living in a trailer in her driveway, and mattresses and floor boards are scattered around her front lawn.
"We need help. At the end of the day, the reality is people have got to have a place to live," Mayo said.
Bayboro Baptist Church has become a central hub for volunteers trying to help.
"There's so many in Pamlico County that are displaced, that have nowhere to go," volunteer Miriam Prescott said. "We're a rural county. We don't have apartment buildings. We don't have hotels to speak of. We're in desperate need of housing."
Some displaced residents initially stayed at a shelter, but many chose to stay behind with relatives to to protect their homes against looters.
A Federal Emergency Management Agency spokesman said the agency is doing everything possible to get people into a stable living situation quickly.
The county is also distributing information to residents on mold remediation.
Irene's flooding also left a booming mosquito problem in its wake. The Pamlico County Health Department said workers are spraying to kill mosquitoes.
For herself, Mayo said, she'll remain on patrol "until everybody's got the help they need."