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Isabel Recovery, Aid Slow In Hard-Hit Pamlico County

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PAMLICO COUNTY, N.C. — More than six months after Hurricane Isabel slammed the North Carolina coast, recovery is slow.

Many storm victims blame problems on financial aid from insurance companies and the

Federal Emergency Management Agency


The destruction from Hurricane Isabel is a daily struggle for many in Pamlico County, an area hit hard by the storm.

Francine Jones' family is still living in a flooded home, even though the floor is rotting away.

"One of us may fall through before its all over," she said.

Jones did not have flood insurance. She called FEMA to report the damage, but never filled out any paperwork. She says no one has come by to inspect her home.

"We really need some assistance for our house because of the way it is," she said.

A few miles away, Isabel pushed nearly 3 feet of water into Edith Cooper's home.

Cooper, who says she lost everything, is still living in a FEMA trailer. Insurance did not cover all of the repairs to her home, and Cooper did not get the help she expected from FEMA.

"They did tell me once my insurance paid off then they would step in, but they haven't given me anything," Cooper said.

About 1,500 people from Pamlico County reported significant damage to their homes after the hurricane. County officials say, so far, less than half of have received enough financial help to rebuild.

County planner Jayne Robb is still helping storm victims apply for state and federal aid. She says the longer it takes, the more she worries about people's health.

"That is the biggest concern. We've got people, families that are still living in hazardous nonsafe conditions," Robb said.

People like Jones say unless they get some help, there is nowhere else to go.

Some who have already started to rebuild have run into another problem - trying to figure out how to get rid of the debris.

For months, Pamlico County picked up debris or let people haul it to the city dump for free. That ended last month. The county says it had to start charging residents again, because it is still waiting on several hundred thousand dollars from FEMA.

Storm victim John Duke started a petition to get help for those, like himself, who are just starting to clean up.

"That would give me an extra few dollars to put back into this house where the insurance isn't covering," he said.

County leaders say they will decide whether to start debris collection again once they meet with FEMA.

Representatives from FEMA are scheduled to return to Pamlico County and Hyde countiesto discuss concerns. Community Outreach Teams will be available from 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. at the following dates and locations:

Hyde County:

  • April 14:Fire House, 5224 Sladesville Credle Road, Scranton
  • April 15:Hyde Davis Business Enterprise Center (former Davis School), Room 6, 33470 U.S. 264, Englehard
  • April 16:Fire House, 25 Oyster Creek Road, Swan Quarter

    Pamlico County:

  • April 20:Pamlico County Courthouse, Board of Commissioners Room, 202 Main Street, Bayboro