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Hyde County Finds Creative Way To Keep Court In Session

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SWAN QUARTER — At least one eastern North Carolina county continues to deal with major problems caused by Hurricane Isabel.

The storm washed several feet of water into the Hyde County Courthouse, and the county may not be able to replace it. So, they are finding creative ways to keep court in session.

The no-frills courtroom is the garage of Swan Quarter's new fire station. Instead of a judge's bench, there is a folding table. The typical wooden chairs and booths have been replaced by plastic versions.

Hurricane Isabel washed out more than the courthouse. Most county offices are in temporary trailers.

The damage is so bad the county will have to rebuild from the ground up -- and may have to do it alone.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency denied the county any money because extra flood insurance was not added to the policy after Hurricane Floyd.

Hyde County Manager Don Davenport said the county has appealed the decision because it believes FEMA shares the blame.

"No one person is responsible," Davenport said. "I think there should have been some checks and balances."

According to FEMA officials, the required flood insurance for the courthouse would have cost the county an extra $550 a year. Now, instead, it is trying to come up with several million.

Hyde County has asked the state to help it tear down the old courthouse and build a new one. Until then, the fire trucks will park outside when court's in session.

Hyde County commissioners voted not to spend any more money on temporary repair work until they find a permanent solution.


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