Hurricanes

Pamlico island still recovering from Hurricane Irene

Posted August 27, 2012

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— Wendy Mayo knows the roads of Goose Creek Island in Pamlico County like the back of her hand.

Although she lives two hours away in New Hanover County, she's seen them a lot, traveling the roads of Hobucken and Lowland – towns still recovering a year after Hurricane Irene hit the North Carolina coast – helping victims of the Category 1 storm.

"It was very difficult to come down here and see all the devastation and to see how much hurt it caused," Mayo said. "(Irene) truly just pulled the rug out from under them. It turned their lives upside down."

The devastation isn't as obvious anymore.

Streets once lined with personal possessions piled like trash outside of flood-damaged homes are now clean.

Families living outside in tents after their homes became uninhabitable now have roofs over their heads.

Edward Whitfield rebuilt his home, and so did Judy Brown, one of many residents who, for months, lived in temporary housing provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"We were fortunate to have insurance and to be able to rebuild, because that's exactly what we had to do," Brown said.

But Pamlico County Emergency Management Director Chris Murray says the area is still in recovery mode.

Many homeowners are still dealing with insurance issues, and others are waiting for state buyouts or still applying for grants to help pay to elevate their homes.

But Mayo is glad to see that lives are getting back in order.

Originally from Hobucken, she has often made the drive to help out in whatever way she can as a way to give back.

A few months before Irene, she lost her 12-year-old son, Zack, to liver cancer.

"They rallied around us as we had a hurricane, so to speak, in our lives," she said. "Reaching out and helping other people really helps you take your mind off your problems."

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