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Floyd Victims Continue to Wait For Goverment to Buy Back Homes

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WAYNE COUNTY — Thousands of flood victims are still waiting for the federal government to buy their flood-damaged homes. Community members blame local officials for dragging their feet while state leaders say it is not their fault.

It is not easy for 84-year-old resident Melissa Richardson to see what is left of her Goldsboro home almost a year after Hurricane Floyd. It is even harder for the government to buy her home while she is living in a camper.

"We are just at the mercy of God. All I can do is wait on the Lord from time to time until I can do better," Richardson says.

Some people had hoped that local governments would do better at administrating the federal buyout program. Officials say they are working as fast as they can.

"From the time we give an appraiser a house to do, it takes them to go out there, look at the property and get the report back to us within a couple of weeks. We usually get them 10 at a time," says Wayne County planning director Connie Price.

"When you go through several layers of government and all of that bureaucracy, it takes a while to do it," says Gov. Jim Hunt.

Rather than waiting for a buyout, people in Wayne County are forced to live next to homes that have been abandoned. Those abandoned houses are easy targets for vandals.

While Hazel Snead and her husband wait for the buyout, she says a sense of pride forces them to attend to their flood-damaged property.

"We are staying here to take care of our property and wait, so we can buy a new home," Snead says.

Goldsboro officials estimate the government still have 250 properties to buy out. Officials are still waiting for the federal government to give them a grant agreement before they can begin the process.