Hurricanes

Two months after Florence, New Hanover County residents still reeling

Posted November 14, 2018 5:53 p.m. EST
Updated November 14, 2018 5:56 p.m. EST

— Two months ago today, Hurricane Florence made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, bringing winds of 90 miles per hour and heavy rain.

Heavy rains from the storm flooded countless homes and businesses, causing nearly $17 billion in damage, and that was just in North Carolina.

Some residents in New Hanover County are still struggling to recover from the monster storm.

Kitty Brunjes: "You can't live in it"

Kitty Brunjes had lived in her 1934 cottage for 50 years, but Florence left her home with a hole in the roof.

"It came from above," she said. "It came through the hole in the roof and leaked through the floors."

She has not been able to salvage much from her Wrightsville Beach home, which is full of treasured memories with her husband, John, who died last year.

"His grandparents bought it in 1935, and we lived here for 50 years," she said.

Rain poured through the hold in her roof for days during the storm.

"Isn't that awful," she asks. "You can't live in it."

WRAL News first met Brunjes on Sept. 18.

She and many New Hanover County residents are still trying to pick up the pieces from that powerful hurricane.

Meet Linda Bagwell

Bagwell has lived in her Wilmington home for 63 years before a tree fell on her roof, allowing rain to pour in.

Officials at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, have denied her request for help.

She has been denied help from FEMA.

The agency ruled that damage to her home does not prevent her from living in the dwelling. Bagwell attended a meeting held by FEMA in Wilmington.

"I don't know who they're helping," she says. "They're certainly not helping a lot of people I know of."

The federal agency says FEMA has paid out $29.3 million in assistance to New Hanover County residents. And the agency has extended the deadline for applying for aid to Dec. 13.

More than 4,000 New Hanover County homeowners have received FEMA money to help them repair their homes, replace their belongings or pay for temporary housing.

"North Carolinians are in for a challenging recovery," said Rebecca XX, a FEMA official. "FEMA will be here as long as it takes."

Kitty Brunjes did not apply for help from FEMA. Instead, she has made the painful decision to demolish her home with hopes of building a new one.

"It's not easy, but I'm just glad we're able to do something with it," she said. "It's just sad for me to pack it all up."

FEMA funding as of Nov. 7, 2018:

Pender County – FEMA funding provided: $52 million

FEMA has provided $14.9 million in grants to 2,472 Pender County households to help them rent a place to live temporarily, make basic home repairs to help make their home habitable, and replace personal property. By law, FEMA assistance is for needs not covered by insurance. FEMA has paid $37.1 million in flood insurance claims to policyholders in Pender County, where 1,226 claims have been filed. In addition, FEMA has paid for 74 Pender County families to stay in hotels temporarily under the Transitional Sheltering Assistance program, because their primary residence was uninhabitable. For survivors with uninhabitable homes who cannot find a viable rental property, FEMA has licensed 18 Pender County families into direct temporary housing units.

New Hanover County – FEMA Funding Provided: $29.3 million

FEMA has provided $10.2 million in grants to 4,017 New Hanover County households to help them rent a place to live temporarily, make basic home repairs to help make their home habitable, and replace personal property. By law, FEMA assistance is for needs not covered by insurance. FEMA has paid $19.1 million in flood insurance claims to policyholders in New Hanover County, where 1,478 claims have been filed. In addition, FEMA has paid for 172 New Hanover County families to stay in hotels temporarily under the Transitional Sheltering Assistance program, because their primary residence was uninhabitable. For survivors with uninhabitable homes who cannot find a viable rental property, FEMA is working to license families into direct temporary housing units.

Brunswick County – FEMA Funding Provided: $20.4 million

FEMA has provided $6.5 million in grants to 1,727 Brunswick County households to help them rent a place to live temporarily, make basic home repairs to help make their home habitable, and replace personal property. By law, FEMA assistance is for needs not covered by insurance. FEMA has paid $13.9 million in flood insurance claims to policyholders in Brunswick County, where 1,021 claims have been filed. In addition, FEMA has paid for 51 Brunswick County families to stay in hotels temporarily under the Transitional Sheltering Assistance program, because their primary residence was uninhabitable. For survivors with uninhabitable homes who cannot find a viable rental property, FEMA is working to license families into direct temporary housing units.

2 Months after Florence:

Brunswick County residents struggle to recover from Hurricane Florence