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Salter Path Begins Cleaning Up After Ophelia's Damage

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SALTER PATH, N.C. — On Thursday, there were signs of progress in Salter Path as crews started clearing mountains of debris after Hurricane Ophelia brushed by the North Carolina coast last week.

But, the crews have got a long way to go. Many lifelong residents in Salter Path, which is in Carteret County, said Ophelia was so bad, it's now their new benchmark storm.

Michael Fiorini, of Salter Path, said Ophelia may be worse than Hurricane Hazel.

"Yeah, we got more water in here during Ophelia," he said. "I've never seen this damage down the shoreline."

Fiorini's family built a seafood market in the community about 50 years ago. The hurricane destroyed nearly everything, Fiorini said.

He said he has nowhere to store the catch at the start of what is usually his peak season.

"We're dead in the water right now; with not having any business, the cash flow is not there," he said. "It's just not a good thing."

The Town of Salter Path has condemned his buildings.

Last week, agents with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) also inspected them.

Now, Fiorini is waiting to hear if he qualifies for financial aid; that could take awhile, he said.

"We've been hit hard," he said. "I know we're not a billion-dollar disaster down here, but we still need help."

The damage at Fiorini's seafood market is similar to the damage of many businesses and residences along the sound.

The hurricane destroyed at least a dozen homes in Salter Path, and the Crab Shack restaurant has been forced to close because of Ophelia.

"Hopefully, we're going to try to be open before Easter -- hopefully," Crab Shack's Eric Guthrie said.

If insurance and FEMA aid come through soon, Fiorini said he planned to reopen around the same time, too.

County leaders said they were still waiting to see what kind of federal aid would be available for residents and business owners.


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