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HUD chief Carson surveys storm damage in Fayetteville 16 months after Matthew

Posted February 9, 2018 7:06 p.m. EST

— Floodwaters from Hurricane Matthew inundated much of Fayetteville 16 months ago, but there was still plenty of damage for federal officials to see on Friday.

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Dr. Ben Carson and Republican 9th District Congressman Robert Pittenger visited homes hit hard by the hurricane and reassured Mayor Mitch Colvin and other city leaders that those impacted by the storm have not been forgotten.

More than half of the buildings at the 100-unit Mt Sinai Homes complex off Murchison Road, near Fayetteville State University, were damaged by the storm, and repairs are still being made to apartments in the federally subsidized complex.

"We need to kind of scrap all these things that have been put in place before and start all over again," Carson said.

Across town, many storm victims in the Hollywood Heights neighborhood are elderly and may never get the chance to make repairs and move back in because the damage was so extensive.

"The water actually went all the way under the house (and) puckered my floors," resident Quancidine Gribble said.

Gribble's house is on Louise Street, which was so badly damaged it had to be closed, leaving only one way in and out of the neighborhood off Skibo Road. She said she applied for local, state and federal aid but hasn't received any money so far.

"I've not gotten any money from the applications, and I am financially devastated," she said.

Carson said he's doing all he can to eliminate the federal red tape that's holding up money designed to help people whose lives have been turned upside-down by hurricanes. He had planned to visit Fayetteville last August, but hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico forced him to postpone.

"We get that money into the hands of the states and local officials, and they will make the decisions on exactly how it's released from there," Carson said.

Pittenger noted that the budget deal Congress approved early Friday includes another $125 million in Hurricane Matthew relief.

But that was little comfort to Gribble and other residents dealing with storm damage for more than a year.

"The amount of money that it's going to take to fix this house is not cost-effective," she said. "My whole thing is just tear the house down (and) give me my money. Tear the house down and let me move on."