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Easley requests disaster declaration for Bertie Co.

Gov. Mike Easley on Wednesday requested a disaster declaration for residents in Bertie County who suffered damage from the tornado that hit on Sunday.

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ONSLOW COUNTY, N.C. — Gov. Mike Easley on Wednesday requested a disaster declaration for Bertie County, which suffered damage from a tornado that hit on Sunday.

Easley’s request was in a letter to the Small Business Administration. The declaration would make residents and business owners in Bertie County eligible for low-interest loans to assist with repairs.

On Wednesday, Easley met with local emergency response officials and conducted an aerial tour of tornado damage in Onslow County.

“You look down and you know that somebody is homeless,” Easley said while viewing the destruction.

An SBA disaster declaration requires a county to have 25 or more homes or businesses with 40 percent or more uninsured damage.

Preliminary damage assessment teams were dispatched Monday to Bertie, Onslow and Jones counties. Teams found that Bertie County had 30 homes that were destroyed or suffered major damage and were not covered by insurance.

Officials estimated that Onslow County sustained $327,000 in damage. Six homes and one business were destroyed. Nine structures suffered major damage, six suffered minor damage. Most homes in Onslow County were insured.

“The residents in Bertie and Onslow counties whose homes were damaged or destroyed by the tornadoes have a long recovery process ahead and the state is going to do everything we can to assist in these efforts,” Easley said in a press release.

Ricky Temple, owner of Fuquay Varina-based RLT Construction, said his crew and equipment will stay in the tiny town of Belgrade for several days to help residents.

“We’re supposed to be at Glaxo in RTP, but we told them we’d be there,” Temple said.

Temple’s company is one of many that have donated their time to help people recovering from the Sunday storms that brought as many as 16 tornadoes to the eastern part of the state. Some contractors have donated trucks, while caterers are donating food.

“We don’t have any place to live right now until we get our home fixed. But we’ll get through it,” said Norma Dudley.

If Easley’s disaster declaration is approved, individuals would also be eligible for financial help from the state disaster assistance program.

Twelve people were injured in Bertie and Onslow counties during the storms, which spawned as many as 16 tornadoes in the eastern part of the state on Sunday.

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Erin Coleman, Reporter
Geof Levine, Photographer
Kathy Hanrahan, Web Editor

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