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First Flood-Damaged Home Demolished Under Buyout Program

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WILSON — A house came crashing to the ground Monday in Wilson, but the demolition was no accident. In fact, Governor Hunt gave the go-ahead for the heavy machinery to move in.

The structure was the first flood-damaged house Down East to be torn down under the state's buyout program. It was home to Chico Deberry, who says he is sad to watch his dreams fall under the claw of a front-end loader.

"I thought we were going to live out our lives in that house, when we bought it 1995," he says. "And, you know, you first buy your own house, you think you're going to live your life in there."

Tracey Barnes' house is also on the list, doomed for destruction.

"It's hard for our children. We grew up here. Our children had a lot of fun here, but I know we can take our memories with us," she says.

Rick Carlisle, the statesecretary of commerce, says Monday's demolition is an important step toward recovery.

"It's important to turn this into green space and give the families enough funds to get into better housing, which we are doing with state assistance...so they never have to face this kind of disaster again," he says.

In one of the largest buyout programs in the nation's history, the state plans to buy more than 4,300 homes at a cost of $261.4 million.

The program, jointly funded by the state and federal government, buys properties that lie in the path of natural disasters, clears the land and forbids further development on it.

The first round of Wilson buyouts will cost $11.5 million. The city awaits approval from theFederal Emergency Management Agencyto demolish 206 more homes at a cost of $6.9 million.

Governor Hunt says much of the recovery process is tied up in Washington red tape. He intends to send a letter to FEMA officials in an effort to expedite the paperwork. From staff and wire reports


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