Hurricanes

Jobless search for work in wake of Hurricane Irene

Posted February 27, 2012

— Hurricane Irene blew away more than homes in Beaufort County six months ago. Jobs were also casualties in an area already hard-hit by a struggling economy.

The Henries family's Carolina Seafood in Aurora has been closed since Irene pushed water on shore with so much force Aug. 27, 2011 that it destroyed the crabhouse.

The family has been repairing the business without insurance or federal disaster money.

"It's been hard," Vance Henries said. "All this we've had to do, we've had to come up with the money ourselves."

Sixty employees have also been out of work since the Carolina Seafood closed.

Janet Diffenderfer said she's drained her savings while searching for new work and waiting for the crabhouse to reopen.

"I probably got $200, and I'm hoping my taxes come this week," she said.

Diffenderfer is not alone among those thrown out of work by Hurricane Irene.

Regularly employed workers who lost work due to the storm are part of Beaufort County's 10.9 percent jobless rate, above the state average of 9.9 percent. About 170 commercial fishermen and farmers in Beaufort County also applied for disaster unemployment as a direct result of Irene.

Cash, calendars and federal deadlines are also worrying county residents whose homes were damaged by the hurricane.

Darnell Smith's home of 30 years flooded, forcing her to move into a temporary trailer provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

By April 1, FEMA wants residents to return those trailers, unless they can prove they need more time.

"I got into this at the end of November, first of December, and they want me out by April? I can't even build a storage shed in that time, let alone a house," Smith said.

Smith said she's also fighting for her flood insurance company to pay up.

"I feel like, as they say, we're being treated like the red-headed stepchild. They don't give a rip about what's going on down here," she said.

Vance Henries Jobless search for work after Irene

Given time, Smith said, she and other Beaufort County residents will rebuild.

That resilience is built into their characters "because we're southerners," she said. "After a while, you forget about it. It's what people have done in the past, and what they will always do."

Henries said he keeps working because he wants to be a part of rebuilding, not just a business, but a community.

"As long as I can get up in the morning and stand up and be blessed by the good Lord, I'm going to keep going, best we can," he said.

18 Comments

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  • westernwake1 Feb 28, 3:15 p.m.

    "The thing that I do agree with you on is why would someone have a crabshack right on the water where larger commercial boats come in, and not have flood insurance. My guess is that the buildings must be debt free or flood insurance would be required.

    Not buying insurance, and then complaining about a loss doesn't get a lot of sympathy from me. If flood insurance is not available for a location, that's one thing, but right on the water.......that just doesn't make sense." - beachboater

    Most of the homes that were flooded are well inland and NOT in the 100 year flood plain. They are the same as the homes of most of the people posting who are not living within a 100 year flood plain . Do you have flood insurance? Less than 3% of the homeowners in the US have flood insurance.

    As for the water-front businesses, many business buildings have no debt and flood insurance is very expensive.

    I have sympathy for these people down east.

  • beachboater Feb 28, 11:23 a.m.

    citizensoldier16 - I think you were a little harsh in your comments. I do know that the downeasters are a hardworking stick together bunch of people. I don't think they are looking for handouts.

    The thing that I do agree with you on is why would someone have a crabshack right on the water where larger commercial boats come in, and not have flood insurance. My guess is that the buildings must be debt free or flood insurance would be required.

    Not buying insurance, and then complaining about a loss doesn't get a lot of sympathy from me. If flood insurance is not available for a location, that's one thing, but right on the water.......that just doesn't make sense.

    Hurricane Floyd in 1999 flooded much of Goldsboro, Wayne Co, and south to Wilmington. Many of the effected areas were not in flood plains. I know a man that was not in the 100 year flood zone that had water chest high in his living room.

  • betty1 Feb 28, 10:16 a.m.

    It amazes me how ignorant the rest of the state is as to anything east of Highway 17 except the beaches. These are poor areas. The good people that live here have been here for generations. They were struggling before the Hurrican and are struggling more now. And to top it off, now they're trying to charge them to take the ferries. $20 a day ($10 each way)has been proposed. That's about 3 hours of wages - almost half a day. It's time the rest of the state wakes up and offers help to these areas, instead of hurting them more. Keep the FEMA trailers, don't charge for the ferry.

  • jdiffenderfer Feb 27, 7:43 p.m.

    My name is Janet Diffenderfer and I work at the crabhouse mentioned in this article. How prideful is it to smell like crabs? I don't know how you two get off by saying the things those hurtful comments . The ones that have insurance are fighting to get the money to rebuild and the ones who didn't have it couldn't get it in the first place. Have you noticed the gas prices? The only Wendy's, papa johns are 35 or 40the miles away from Aurora. Bayboro jobs that you mentioned are government jobs. Living off the government, are you crazy? From a fema trailer. Why don't you bring your sanctimonious self to Aurora or to Lowland and help, instead of your own whining behind the scenes!

  • westernwake1 Feb 27, 7:40 p.m.

    Proudcrabberswife, adbrousard, and proudcrabbersdaughter,

    Great Comments! I hope the community around Bayboro is able to recover quickly, and that the families who need more time in FEMA trailers are allowed to stay in them beyond April 1st.

    Stay strong!

  • proudcrabbersdaughter Feb 27, 7:02 p.m.

    looking at this, I find it a little sad to see some of these comments. My family has worked very hard to rebuild everything. I find is upsetting that, after only a short 6 or 7 months, the new temporary homes are being taken away. (not to mention it is a health danger to live in a moldy house, as some of these are still.) I have seen how hard work has been going on around here, because I am from this "little town". It is very sad to see everything destroyed but I have never seen a community come together like we all have since this storm. I just think that until you are in this type of situation, maybe you really don't fully understand what it must be like...

  • adbrousard Feb 27, 6:56 p.m.

    Even those who do have flood insurance are having a hard time collecting. They were denied FEMA trailers and are living in the attics or garages of their flooded and molded homes while they wait for some funds to come through so they can start trying to rebuild.

    My mother and 13 year-old niece (who have been featured by WRAL in some of their coverage) are just now, with the help of wonderful volunteers, getting their house fixed. They've been living in FEMA housing since the 1st week of October.

    There were no jobs in Bayboro, NC before the hurricane. I know, I lived in Pamlico County for 25 years before I finally moved away last year to Franklin County. The people there make their living on the waters. The whole county is in devastation, don't you understand? Boats can't pack out at a fish house that doesn't operate. The ladies can't come in an work if boats aren't packing out. These people who's jobs are in the water don't have jobs because there's no work.

  • Proudcrabberswife Feb 27, 6:46 p.m.

    My husband is not looking for a handout, and in fact has done a great deal of repairs himself. Not everyone "down south" is looking for a handout. And the trailers are being used by folks whose homes were completely flooded and not able to be lived in. This area was hard hit by the "little" hurricane. Maybe you folks who do not live here do not understand. Why shouldn't we rebuild? Why shouldn't we let others know what devastation happened here? If there were a disaster in your area, you might be thinking differently. I have even seen comments about those of us that live near the water...like we should take the blame for living here. Really?! So if you had some sort of natural disaster there, would it be YOUR fault for choosing to live there? We have never asked for a handout. My husband has been working hard to do his own repairs. Our family and friends have graciously jumped in to help...THAT is what WE do in the south.

  • westernwake1 Feb 27, 6:37 p.m.

    "Just give the people the darn trailers. They can't be worth much but the people may be able to sell them for whatever they can get. They can use the money to buy furnishings and such" - fayncmike

    Actually the funny part is that when these people are forced to turn in these trailers back in, FEMA does NOT re-use these trailers in the next disaster. All these trailers are auctioned off, usually for pennies on the dollar. Right now there is a glut of trailers in the market, so there are not even any takers at auctions. This leaves FEMA forced to park their used trailers at large depots paying storage fees each month.

    Isn't better to let these hurricane victims have the trailers for a few months longer then sending the trailers to some remote depot where they will sit unused?

  • fayncmike Feb 27, 5:34 p.m.

    Just give the people the darn trailers. They can't be worth much but the people may be able to sell them for whatever they can get. They can use the money to buy furnishings and such.

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