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Labor Day No Vacation for Coastal Residents

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NORTH CAROLINA COAST — The flood waters from Tropical Storm Dennis are receding. Now, the cleanup is starting. For the people of Belhaven, the recovery will not be easy.

"It will take a long time, really. There's still a lot of damage here," says Bud O'Neal, Belhaven business owner. "It went into a lot of people's houses, and that's traumatic."

Just about everyone in town has a story to tell.

"Physically, I think I can handle the work," says Jennifer Cuthrell. "That doesn't bother me. Emotionally, I cannot do it."

Jennifer and her husband Chris were ripping out sheet rock and insulation in their home, and it will be at least a week before they can move in again.

"We bought this house in '94 and for 20 some years there had never been any flooding," says Cuthrell. "And since '94, we've had four hurricanes and three of them have come in the house."

Brenda Bond is fighting fears and frustrations as she works on her home.

The lower part of the walls in her house will have to be replaced, along with the carpet she put in just 10 months ago to replace the ones ruined by Hurricane Bonnie.

The house is scheduled to be raised six feet next week, but that does not help her now.

"We just knew for sure this year we wouldn't have to go through this again," says Bond. "But here we are again. And we hope that we'll get the house up before another one comes."

In Kill Devil Hills, insurance adjustor Matt Powell has paid out a bundle in insurance claims.

Like Dennis, and because of him, Powell has made return trips to many homes.

He says the insurance claims are coming in at a steady pace since property owners are getting a better handle on damaged areas now that Dennis is finally gone.

The damage in Becky West's home is minimal, but it was enough to rattle her nerves.

"I came out here a couple of days ago to look at it before the second rain hit, and the ceiling has gotten worse just because more water has come in through it," says Powell of West's home. "They're missing a patch of siding in one place."

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Brian Bowman, Reporter
John Cox, Photographer
Kelly Gardner, Web Editor

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