Six months after Hurricane Irene hit, hope persists

Posted February 27, 2012

— When Hurricane Irene devastated much of eastern North Carolina six months ago, many homes were lost, but hope was not.

Helping in the rebuilding are volunteers such as Mike Collins and his fellow church members.

Collins used his vacation time and own money to travel 600 miles to help storm victims in Pamlico County.

"We start taking a look where there is an area we can be of service," Collins said. "We knew about the hurricane and the (storm) surge and everything that occurred down here. There is a great need still."

Bogue Inlet pier Images of Irene

Irene lashed the North Carolina coast for more than 12 hours on Aug. 27, 2011. Its storm surge pushed water up rivers, creating extensive flooding far inland.

Volunteers are helping people like George Midgette, who sheltered inland when the storm hit and came home to nearly nothing.

"It was terrible. I came back and looked at the house, and I was like, 'Oh, it's finished,'" he said.

But Midgette isn't a man to give up.

He got temporary housing from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. He didn't have insurance, so he's getting help from volunteer groups and paying professionals when he can.

"The financial burden is the biggest thing," Midgette said.

Finances are the largest hurdle to rebuilding in Pamlico, County Manager Tim Buck said.

"The key is money and money flow, and that's taken a while for some of our residents," Buck said.

He estimated that it could take the county five years to recover, based upon experience with past storms. Hurricane Irene recovery Hope fuels hurricane recovery

Buck said those earlier struggles, though, have taught people to weather the rough road to recovery.

"We like to say our residents are tough stock," he said.

Audrey and Ray Lupton have got their home back into livable conditions after it was ravaged by floods.

"As far as where we live – living room, dining room, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom – we're fine, and we're satisfied," Audrey Lupton said.

Collins said that residents have greeted volunteers with gratitude amidst the tough circumstances.

"We have felt very appreciated, welcomed in a very receptive environment," he said.

While the storm destroyed Midgette's home, it didn't bring down his spirit.

"I can adjust," he said. "It's not like I'm out in the street or staying with other family members. I've got a place to stay, so we're doing the best we can."


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  • tprice45 Feb 27, 2012

    btw this is in gov purdue's backyard.... she has been conveintly absent ( as have most other politicians) from helping these folks out

  • jdupree Feb 27, 2012

    I went down to Pamlico Beach, NC for parts of 4 weeks after the storm. The Red Cross and various Church support groups were there. I saw empty State Dump Trucks and Pick Up Trucks ride in and back out the dead end road and saw the State workers with clean tan pants and clean shirts at times during the day. They were visible but not really helping. FEMA came by after a few weeks handing out flyers. I know one 89 year old woman who just got a FEMA trailer and who has also been told she has to be out of it by April before this years storm season starts. The help has been slow and sparse. Most folks down there had to help themselves! Government definitely did not work here and most money spent was wasted on salaries for Do-Nothing People just riding around!

  • North Carolina Cutie Feb 27, 2012

    The government is there for those that don't have money, not everyone has insureance can't afford it. Then when people are homeless you talk about that it's their fault not controls the storms or the world but God man may think they do. NOT only because he allows.

  • tprice45 Feb 27, 2012

    special thanks to my local boy scout troop 23 from princeton...they spent the weekend cleaning up in pamlico while sleeping in tents in the wind and rain.

  • cwood3 Feb 27, 2012

    I AGREE SIDECUTTER. Shoddy workhamship can cause all kinds of problems afterward!

  • sidecutter Feb 27, 2012

    I have mixed emotions about the use of volunteers. Several years ago I went down east to help repair some homes. As a licensed Electrical Contractor they asked me to finish several projects started by volunteers. I was flabergasted at the poor quality, shodiness of the work, blatant Code violations and sub-standard work. I asked the co-ordinator how these places passed inspection and he informed thay had "worked it out" with the Inspector. While the volunteers have good intention if they are not trained or licensed they efforts should be limited to clean-up, painting or other duties.

  • JAFOinWF Feb 27, 2012

    Thats great that everyone is moving on but I still do not see why it is a function of the federal govt to supply that money to do so. In the form of FEMA and loans, I think the govt should be out of it.