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Neighborhoods Shrink as FEMA Buyouts Continue

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WAYNE COUNTY — Nearly a year after Hurricane Floyd, its effects are still being felt Down East. Neighborhoods are shrinking as FEMA continues the slow process of buying and destroying flood-ravaged homes.

Nearly everyone in Gracie Kelly's Wayne County neighborhood has moved away, and they are not coming back. The flood and the buyout have changed it forever.

"You need someone to holler at once in a while, and I just don't like being here no more," Kelly said. "It really is lonesome out here. Some days you don't see any cars or anything much go by anymore."

It is a similar story in hundreds of neighborhoods across several counties.

In Wayne County alone, 350 homes hit by Hurricanes Fran andFloydwill be torn down once the FEMA buyout program runs its course.

"We've got one neighborhood that will have two houses in it that currently has 50 houses in it," said Wayne County Planning Director Connie Price. "Some streets where all the houses will be gone."

Buddy Gurganus knows the feeling. He had his floor repaired after the flood and moved back in -- but now his family is the only one on this street. With all his neighbors gone, his neighborhood is not quite "home sweet home" anymore.

"They're not coming back," Gurganus said. "They told us they're not coming back. It's a bad thing to me. I like neighbors and it's scary out here with nobody here. It looks like a ghost town. I wish our neighbors had come back"

Wayne County officials are hopeful that the buyout program will move more swiftly than it did after Hurricane Fran. Some homes damaged by that storm are still standing, however FEMA officials are working to speed up the recovery process.


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