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Wayne County Homeowners Turned Down In Phase One Of FEMA Buyout

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WAYNE COUNTY — Thousands of Hurricane Floyd victims are still waiting for checks to help them rebuild. One Wayne County family is trying to make ends meet after they were rejected for the first round ofFEMAbuyouts.

The Hatems expected the FEMA buyout check to be in the mail. Three feet of water filled their house after Floyd, but a few days ago, the Hatems and 27 other Wayne County homeowners were told that they have been turned down for phase one.

"It was a real shock when I found out that no, we weren't going to be in the buyout," says flood victim Mary Hatem. "I said, 'They just can't do that to folks like that.' They tell you that they're going to do one thing, then they turn around and say, 'I'm sorry.'"

The family of five thought that they were guaranteed to be bought out. They spent everything they had on a new mobile home. Now, they cannot afford either place, so they are living in a temporary FEMA trailer.

"It just drew us down," says Donald Hatem. "Sometimes I have to laugh to keep myself from having too much of a strain about it."

The county was surprised that almost 30 percent of its buyout requests were rejected by the state, most because the houses were outside the 100-year flood plain.

The county understands that guidelines are necessary, but hopes the state is more generous in phase two.

"We were trying to have homes that were contiguous, not leaving a hodgepodge of homes in, homes out, but trying to take out whole neighborhoods if all the homes were flooded in that neighborhood," says Connie Price, Wayne County planning director.

The phase two applications start in the next few weeks. The state hopes to hear something in about two to three months but there is no guarantee that the homeowners that were rejected in phase one will receive their buyouts in phase two.



Brian Bowman, Reporter
Brian Bowman, Photographer
Kamal Wallace, Web Editor

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