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Belhaven Prepares To Protect Itself From Isabel

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BELHAVEN, N.C. — Every time a hurricane heads toward the state, the coastal rebuilding debate heats up. After Floyd, one town in eastern North Carolina did not just rebuild; it built up.

The town of Belhaven may be affected by Hurricane Isabel, which is targeting the North Carolina coast.

"The projected path right now doesn't look good for Belhaven," Town Manager Tim Johnson said.

However, residents know about storms. Hurricane Floyd brought 38 inches of water into Jesse Taylor's living room.

"It was devastating," he said.

After Hurricane Floyd came through, Federal Emergency Management Agency decided it was time to find a way to keep those homes from getting flooded every time a hurricane comes through, so it started giving the low-lying homes a lift.

FEMA officials spent $16 million so far elevating about one-third of the foundations in Belhaven. They say it is cheaper than the constant flood repairs.

"We're hoping now that we're 9 feet above sea level," Taylor said. "If it comes, we're not going to get wet again."

Taylor said he plans to ride the storm out at home as is resident William Ruark.

"Why go anywhere? I'm not going to be wet," Ruark said.

Belhaven leaders are meeting Tuesday night to decide whether to evacuate if Isabel hits the eastern part of the state.


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